Political operatives from 13 Western states will be meeting at the Coeur d'Alene Casino this weekend, providing local residents with a glimpse of something almost as rare in North Idaho as a Kootenai sturgeon.
Democrats. (Yeah, there used to a lot more of them around these parts, too.)
The Western States Caucus will be bringing Democratic National Committee members in for about four days of confering, conversing and otherwise hobnobbing with their brother wizards.
Some might ask why, in a state that's among the most Republican red in the nation, based on the presidential election results or the ratios in the Legislature, where Democratic caucuses could be held in phone booths, if there were any such receptacles to be found.
But Barack Obama won the state's caucuses last spring, and the party has hopes that the West will become "the new South," Aleita Huguenin, the chairwoman of the caucus said.
By that, she doesn't mean "the new South" as in the growing 'burbs of Atlanta or Nashville, which are pretty Republican these days. She means that gaining ground in states like Montana, where Democrats have the governor's mansion and two U.S. senate seats, might replace the electoral votes they lost in the South.
And there's the election of Walt Minnick to the U.S. House, the first Democrat Idaho sent to Congress in 14 years. Minnick is a featured speaker at the event, as is Bruce Reed, the former Clinton Administration adviser and North Idaho native. They'll also talk message, strategy, technique, polling...the usual stuff political types talk when they get together.
Obviously, the Democrats are in a gambling mood politically. So the Coeur d'Alene tribe was probably smart giving them a good rate at the resort and casino, where that spirit might carry over to the slots and Blackjack tables.