Idaho looks a little less country, more suburban

By John Miller

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 23 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

"The fact that they did get a 6-0 vote and reached an agreement, I think there was a lot of compromise on both sides," he said. "Idaho is a conservative state, the Republican Party is the party of conservative ideals and at the end of the day, we'll be successful. I'm not all that worried about it."

Minority Democrats, an endangered Idaho species at just 20 legislators, said they did as well as could be expected given the state's steady march right over the last decade as newcomers among the now-1.5 million residents embrace Idaho's conservative traditions.

They'll hold their own in urban Boise and Pocatello, though unsettled territory includes southeastern Idaho, where conservative Oneida County joined a Bannock County district. And eastern Boise's new District 18, which has swung back and forth between parties, includes an even broader swath of rural Ada County.

"With one or two minor tweaks, I'd say it's the best thing that can be expected under the circumstances," said George Moses, Esposito's chief Democratic antagonist on the first redistricting panel.

Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant also said the congressional map, where the border between Idaho's 1st and 2nd congressional districts shifted to the west in Boise, carries challenges and opportunities. The loss of urban voters in the 1st Congressional District could mean Democrats will struggle to regain the U.S. House seat Labrador wrested from former Congressman Walt Minnick in 2010.

But Grant suggests more Boise residents in the 2nd Congressional District could help sway an election there, especially if U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, a moderate Republican, is beaten by a conservative rival in the newly closed GOP primary.

"The Republicans would help us out by nominating another nut case," Grant said. "A closed Republican primary is going to make a big difference to some of those folks."

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