You couldn’t blame even a well informed Idaho primary voter for failing to know that Idaho’s incumbent for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has a primary challenge this spring.
Jeff Dillon, Superintendent of Wilder School District, is running against State Superintendent Ybarra in the GOP primary. Or at least that’s what the Secretary of State says.
See, Dillon’s online footprint appears limited to an outdated half-finished website which appears last updated in June 2017 with an event calendar that has well…no events. At least the donate button appears to work.
Add in a Facebook group with a dismal following of just 110 folks at the time of this publication, and the online presence is lacking to say the least. Like the website, there are no linked upcoming events to the Facebook page, nor is the website referenced above.
From what little can be gleaned from that Facebook feed, his campaign so far has been limited to small Republican forums in rural Idaho. And while that’s not a wrong strategy, per se, defeating a statewide household name incumbent requires quite a bit more back slapping than meet and greets at small county forums.
It requires an online presences that is geared toward relentless fundraising over the web. Not to mention a published platform articulating what he plans to do differently for the voter to read. If such a thing exists, nobody outside his inner circle has read it as I can assert after searching diligently for such a document.
In fact, the only statement I can find on Dillon’s platform from his Facebook group declaring that he, “understands the issues and will improve our education system.” The priorities tab on his website includes three bullet points that are equally vague.
But it’s not just the lack of detail that’s a mystery. Aside from internet, I can’t find a presence anywhere. Not radio. Ditto TV. YouTube videos? Nada. Postal mail? Zilch.
And it’s one thing for a local city councilman in a small town to win an office by simply knocking on doors. But this is a statewide election. He needs to not just have a presence in one of these areas, but all of them.
And maybe Dillon has an ace up his sleeve I don’t know about. Maybe there is a small group of high value donors or a flush PAC hiding in the shadows that have not yet been played that are intentionally trying to keep the incumbent, Supt. Ybarra, off balance.
Here’s what I do know: May’s primary election is creeping closer by the day, and I just don’t see the type of coordinated effort one would expect to see a few short months away from elections.
Maybe that’s an intentional strategy to keep Ybarra from engaging in a full time campaign herself in the midst of the legislative session.
But if that’s the strategy, it seems to me to be an underwhelming one. This isn’t a county election. Dillon needs to not only gain name recognition with primary voters across the entire Gem State, but he also needs to do one better by convincing them to vote for him over the incumbent.
That’s a tough order, even if his campaign was in high gear.
May will tell.