Former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts Inspires Idaho Democrats

Former Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts listed the multitude of Democratic elected officials in Oregon  for 65 Idaho Democrats at the Live, Love and Laugh fundraiser Thursday evening in Boise.

“Now you are just bragging!” a woman called out from the crowd.

Roberts laughed. “I have to remind Oregon young Democrats and even myself that it wasn’t always the case.”

In the early 1970s when Roberts entered the politics to fight for the rights of specials needs children, the state was firmly in Republican control. Republicans held all statewide offices, all congressional seats except one, and a majority in both houses of the Legislature.

But Oregon Democrats got serious. They made themselves more organized, more creative, found more partners, took recruiting seriously and focused on raising money. They began winning.

Oregon Democrats conditioned themselves “to stop thinking of any district or any office as belonging to Republicans.”

Roberts eventually climbed to the top of the Legislature. She found herself faced with some fairly easy choices, one of which would have made her the first woman Speaker of the House in Oregon history. But she took a tougher path and decided to run for an office that hadn’t been in Democratic hands for 110 years–secretary of state.

Quoting hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, Roberts said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take … It was a long shot but it sure as hell was a shot!”

She worked hard for 18 months and she won. Governor came next.

The fundraiser raised money to hire a political director. IDP Finance Director Maria Hattaway reminded the crowd of what a tremendous success it was for the IDP to protect every incumbent legislative seat during the 2012 presidential election. She noted that the IDP did that with a staff of five that is now down to three. This year’s Dem Drive, which asks Idaho Democrats to make monthly pledges, has been a success. However, the IDP stil needs about 50 more donors at an average of $15 a month to fund this new position.

Roberts recounts her experience and success in Oregon politics in her memoir, “Up the Capitol Steps.” Buy it! And then send her a note saying the Idaho Democrats recommended it to you.

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