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‘He is our best bet’: Why Idaho Democrats back Biden in likely race against Trump

Kathy Dzuck and Melody Ploetz vote in the Idaho Democratic presidential caucus at Timberline High School in Boise on Thursday. | Sarah A. Miller, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Dozens of voters gathered outside Timberline High School in Southeast Boise on Thursday, ready to check in and make known their pick for president before the November election.
Voters checked in with volunteers before heading into the school’s library, where they filled out a ballot — six choices for president, including President Joe Biden — and a slate of delegates to be sent to the state’s Democratic Party State Convention in June. They then dropped their ballots into a cardboard box, their votes cast in the party’s first caucus since 2016.
Biden, an 81 year-old former U.S. senator from Delaware, seeks a second term in office. During his campaign he’s faced criticism over his handling of Israel’s war in Gaza and his advanced age as the oldest American president in history. Biden has generally trailed former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee facing criminal charges for his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, in national polls.
But attendees at one of three caucus locations in Ada County, Timberline High School on Boise Avenue, remained undeterred. The president received 95% of of the 2,412 votes cast Thursday, according to the Idaho Democratic Party, meaning the five other candidates earned a combined total of less than 150 votes. Democrats and unaffiliated voters who voted to select the state party nominee for president told the Idaho Statesman they were largely pleased to support Biden for a second term.
House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, told the Statesman after she voted that she felt Biden has strong support from his party’s base.
“He supports women’s freedom; that’s where I’m at,” Kim Leeds, a Democrat, told the Statesman, noting that abortion rights are her main concern. “I just think it’s great that someone that age has that much energy and passion.”
Several hundred Democratic volunteers helped hold the party’s caucus, which had more than 50 locations around the state and will also designate Idaho’s Democratic delegates. Polls closed at 8 p.m. local time Thursday evening.
Those votes in the caucus will proportionally determine how Idaho’s 23 delegates will vote in the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August. Though six presidential candidates qualified for Idaho’s ballot, Biden already clinched enough votes in state primary elections in March to win the Democratic nomination.
Trump presidency is ‘frankly terrifying’
Jennifer Beazer, another Democratic voter, told the Statesman that she appreciates his efforts to relieve student loan debt for Americans. Beazer, who works in the nonprofit sector, said she had qualified for a federal program that forgives student loan debt for public sector workers who have made on-time payments for a decade. But after 13 years, she said she had not received the debt relief because of bureaucratic reasons.
When Biden entered office in 2021, Beazer said his efforts to reform the program allowed her to receive the loan forgiveness she had previously qualified her, and the savings allowed her to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
Biden separately tried to cancel more than $400 billion in student debt — a move the conservative U.S. Supreme Court overruled last year. He canceled another $7.7 billion Wednesday.
But Beazer said she has been “disappointed” in Biden’s handling of the Gaza war, and that she wants to see a ceasefire. After Hamas militants killed more than 1,100 people in Israel in October, Israel launched a war against the occupied territory and has received billions in U.S. military aid. Israeli attacks in Gaza have since killed more than 35,000 people, according to figures from local officials.
One of the presidential candidates other than Biden — David Olscamp — is running on a platform calling for an immediate ceasefire in the war. Another, Armando Perez-Serrato, on his website has accused Biden of abetting genocide.
But Beazer said she feels there are high stakes in this election against Trump, who she said has “nothing to lose.”
“To me, the option of having another Trump presidency is frankly terrifying,” she said. Two other Democratic voters told the Statesman they felt Biden has been an effective president in the face of Republican opposition in Congress.
Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea told the Statesman the contrast between Biden and Trump “couldn’t be more stark.”
“I think Democrats are going to come together around the Biden administration and its track record of bringing our economy back from the brink, getting people back to work, a record breaking stock exchange and investments in our infrastructure and manufacturing capacity that are going to transform job opportunities for a generation,” she said.
“President Biden is the only person who has beaten President Trump in a presidential election,” she added. “He is our best bet.”
Why Democrats held presidential caucus
The presidential caucus was separate from this month’s primary elections after Republicans in the Idaho Legislature mistakenly deleted the presidential primary last year and then did not reinstate it.
Idaho last had a presidential caucus in 2016, when Bernie Sanders defeated Hilary Clinton. Clinton went on to win the national nomination.
Democratic officials Thursday said they were frustrated to be running a caucus instead of a primary, which they felt would likely depress turnout.
“It’s a poor way to run elections,” said Jared DeLoof, the party’s executive director. He said the party gave voters the option of voting absentee — something he pointed out the state GOP did not offer at its caucus in March.
“We need to fix this,” Necochea said. “Everyone wants a primary.”
The post ‘He is our best bet’: Why Idaho Democrats back Biden in likely race against Trump appeared first on East Idaho News.

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