Above, Jim Brannon and his wife at the 2009 watch party for the Coeur d'Alene City Council elections. (File photo: Duane Rasmussen)
No one who reads this blog should be surprised that the Tea Party/Ron Paul wing of the county GOP Central Committee has engineered a selection that guarantees that a conservative hardliner will be the next county clerk. Commissioners have been handed three names for the important role of county clerk that deserve full vetting — not a rush to pick one. The obvious choice of the Central Committee hardliners for the job is Jim Brannon, who was involved for some time in a divisive lawsuit in which he challenged a five-vote Coeur d'Alene City Council loss to Mike Kennedy in 2009. The end result of the sour-grapes litigation was a net gain of 2 votes and more than $100,000 of wasted public money (to fight the suit). Bjorn Handeen is a former Constitutionalist who was soundly rejected this spring in his bid to become a Coeur d'Alene School Board member. Dean Isaacson is a relative unknown outside of the Central Committee. I doubt any of the three would win a GOPrimary race against three accomplished individuals who were rejected by the GOP hardliners: Jim Hammond, Rick Currie or Pat Raffee. At this point, the conventional wisdom would be for commissioners to select Tea Party/Ron Pauler favorite Brannon. However, they do have two other choices. They could pick someone other than Brannan — and watch, with the rest of us, how they perform in office over the next six months to a year. The performance of Handeen or Isaacson in a high-profile public office like clerk could provide a wake-up call to voters for the spring GOPrimary. Commissioners also could decline to pick any of the three, to show their displeasure at the choices — and force the Central Committee to make the final decision. That would let moderate Republicans, Independents and Democrats know that none of the picks was acceptable and set the stage for another candidate to run, win and represent voters across the spectrum rather than radical operatives in what passes for the county Republican Party/DFO.