The Donkalope is a unique Idaho icon. Created by the late Russell “Rusty” Cheney of Driggs during the 2014 elections, the Donkalope has been the logo for the Teton County Democratic Party ever since. In 2016, the Idaho Delegation rocked Donkalope hats at the Democratic National Convention. Tons of people wanted to take pictures with the hats and the delegation received great feedback.
“We are the more rural, more western, counterparts of our national relatives. We shoot guns as well as cameras. We drive pickups and Subarus. We are the working class; we are retirees, ski bums and professionals. We may ranch, garden, or farm. When you meet us on a mountain trail, our natural habitat, the trusted horse we ride may be flesh or steel, or our transport may be our own two feet. You are as likely to find us on skis or snow machines, peddle bikes or motor bikes, or in a drift boat, raft, or powered craft.” —Rusty Cheney
Inspired by the Bull Moose Party, Cheney wanted to create an icon that distinguished Teton County Dems from the national party. In the West, everyone is familiar with the mythical jackalope, a cross between a jackrabbit and an antelope. He started with a moose but decided to stay with the donkey. Soon the Donkalope took form. The logo was greeted with enthusiasm and the Donkalope stuck.
“You may not identify with national politics, especially when it comes to local issues. If you see yourself as an independent-minded Idahoan, you just might be a Donkalope. Western democrats are a unique breed. No two are alike.”—Rusty Cheney
In April of 2015, Cheney died in a plane crash near Challis, Idaho. The Teton County community was heartbroken. Also in the plane were valley residents Andy Tyson and A.J. Linnell alongside pilot and part-time resident John Short. Linnell had run a successful campaign as a Democrat in 2013 and was elected to the Victor City Council. Though the valley was dealt a devastating blow, more than just their memories have lived on, including the Donkalope.
“Regardless of our outward identities, we believe in transparent and fair government that plans and spends wisely and in our valley that makes us Democrats! We believe in education. We believe in growing the economy and creating jobs. We believe in planning together to ensure our communities become more vibrant and inclusive.”—Rusty Cheney