Democrat Bill Mauk knows that no member of his party has won a U.S. Senate race since Frank Church last accomplished the feat in 1974 over Republican Bob Smith.
He also knows that his likely opponent for the Senate seat that Republican Dirk Kempthorne is surrendering, 2nd District Rep. Michael Crapo, is almost considered an incumbent after his three terms in the House.
He also knows that if Crapo raises and spends $3 million to $4 million, he won’t be able to keep up.
But he remains optimistic.
“I think the pendulum is swinging back the other way, both in Idaho and nationally,” he said Friday on Boise NBC affiliate KTVB’s “Viewpoint” program. Mauk, former state party chairman, announced during the week for the party’s Senate nomination. So far, he’s unopposed.
Crapo also is not expected to have to fight for his party’s nomination in the May 26 primary.
Mauk said he considers it an open seat, not one that will be passed from one Republican to another. There are only five open Senate seats nationally, he said, meaning Idaho will be one of the priorities for the Democrats.
Mauk, who has not held public office before, doesn’t feel that he has to be a professional politician to run for the U.S. Senate.
“People are tired of career politicians,” he said.
As state chairman, he presided over a period in which Idaho Democrats declined to their lowest point in generations, with just 16 of the 105 members of the Legislature and only one state official, Controller J.D. Williams.
Mauk said that doesn’t mean the Democrats are dead.
In 1994, he said, more than 240,000 people voted for Democrat Larry EchoHawk in a losing bid for governor.
He wouldn’t say whether he would invite President Clinton to Idaho to campaign for him, but said all Idaho political leaders should be happy when the nation’s leaders come to the state.
“We should all welcome these people with open arms,” he said, because that gives people a chance to talk to them about Idaho problems.
xxxx Mauk, who is a former state Democratic Party chairman, announced during the week for the party’s Senate nomination. So far, he’s unopposed.
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