Democrats gathered at the Coeur d'Alene Casino near Worley ended the weekend's events with a bang Saturday night at a gala banquet which featured Native American traditional dance presentations, speeches by several Democratic candidates, and a keynote address given by former Congressman Pat Williams, who represented the state of Montana for 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jim Hansen, executive director for the party, said that the platform, which was developed by delegates earlier in the day on Saturday during an executive session in which the media and non-delegates were not allowed in the room, will be released to the public on the party's website on Monday morning. State party chairman Keith Roark said that 126 delegates attended the convention in Worley.
Williams told Democrats gathered at the event to continuously look back at what he called the failures of the presidency of George W. Bush. He said that because of the failures of Bush and a Republican-controlled Congress, President Barack Obama was handed an enormous mess when he took office in January of 2009. Williams urged delegates at the convention to not only learn from the mistakes of the Bush administration, but to also point them out to potential voters at election time in November. He said though Democrats have made great strides by enacting a stimulus program, which Williams said saved the United States from total financial collapse, and by reforming health care. Though not everyone was pleased with the bill, explained Williams, something had to be done and he believes the reforms enacted in March will be a starting point for comprehensive reform. He said he wanted to see strict price controls be put on private insurance companies to prevent them from raising rates and making health insurance cost-prohibitive for families.
Delegates at the convention also heard from Tom Sullivan, a Democrat from Driggs who it challenging Republican Sen. Mike Crapo for his senate seat. For Sullivan, the speech took an introductory tone. "I'm Tom Sullivan, I am running for U.S. Senate, and I intend to win," Sullivan said. He told delegates that he believes Idaho deserves better representation than Crapo, but did not offer specifics on where the Republican had fallen short.
Keith Allred, the Democrat's choice to face Republican Gov. Butch Otter in the fall, faulted Otter for a lack of leadership. Allred also said that Otter paid back a political favor to Qwest Communications when members of his administration award an educational technology contract to that company, despite Syringa Network offering its services at a lower cost with better technical proficiency than any other company considered in competitive bidding for the work. Allred said Qwest was selected only because it had donated to Otter's campaign in the past. "When you line the pockets of your cronies on the backs of Idaho schoolchildren, that's why not," said Allred, explaining why voter's shouldn't choose Otter in November.
Stan Olson, running to unseat Republican Tom Luna, took a jab at Luna in front of delegates. Olson told those in attendance that Luna has no plan for Idaho and is leading the state's public school system down the wrong path. "There's been a lack of leadership and a lack of vision," Olson said.
Delegates at the convention spent the weekend learning various aspect of campaign and political life. The party offered several classes to teach its members how to reach out to potential voters, including a training on the strategic use of social media in campaigns, as well as a lesson on developing effective stump speeches. Attendees got in on a little fun Friday night as they went to a party member's house in Worley for a trap shoot competition and a golf scramble. A Democratic lawmaker from Nevada, flown in to teach the social media class, won the trap shoot.