Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Take me out to the (political) ballgame!

State Representative Pete Nielsen  is early 
and  ready to play and visit with Idahoans.
By Michael Tomlin

and baseball stadiums are great venues for socialization. You don’t even need to like the game to enjoy an afternoon or evening at the ball park. It is much different from football or basketball, where the combat arenas are so packed and noisy that the game dominates rather than the spectators.

So it was on Tuesday evening, August 30th, as the Idaho GOP held an event at Hawk’s Stadium in Boise, in conjunction with a game. If it is baseball and the GOP, I will typically be there.

Raul and Becca Labrador arrive.

Among Idaho’s elected elite attending were Governor Otter, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Representative Raul Labrador, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Speaker Lawerence Denney, our own State Representative Pete Nielsen, GOP Party Chairman Norm Semanko, and a host of others. Most had spouses accompanying them, and they are as popular as the pols, if not more so.
Butch and Brad having great fun with
their jerseys and friends.

The weather was great, burgers and dogs good, and with everyone watching, the Pepsi machine generated more trade than the beer counter.

U.S. Senator Mike Crapo looking for his jersey!
 Not to be missed among all of the political chatter, was the ballgame, between our Hawks and Vancouver. The game was preceded by Governor Otter tossing the ceremonial first pitch, which came in on target to the right of center, and the singing of Canada’s national anthem, followed by our own. That was a nice touch, and "Oh Canada", a beautiful song.

Governor Otter autographs baseballs
while Laurie watches the game.

But it was an evening of politics and relationships, of which just being a part reminds me of the specialness of Idaho and much of the west. No security officers, no State Police, no bodyguards in dark glasses and loose fitting shirts. That is rare and very special. It reminds me of being in Laramie, Wyoming, at a Cowboy football game years ago and standing in the concession line with a young congressman by the name of Dick Cheney, along with U.S. Senators Alan Simpson and Malcolm Wallop, the retiring governor and two opposite-party gubernatorial hopefuls. They laughed, chided each other, and bantered. These moments are special luxuries in a dangerous world.

Speaker Lawerence Denney shares a laugh.

So it was a nice evening at Hawk’s Stadium.
Party Chairman Norm Semanko had no Tea Partiers or RINO’s, hardliners or pragmatists, to contend with. It was an open tent, and an evening when we were all Republicans, all Idahoans, and all Americans.

While Butch Otter was certainly Party “old royalty", it was clear that freshman U.S. Representative Raul Labrador was "new royalty". He has made a good first impression to party faithful, and many voiced that opinion to him.

Pete Nielsen explains to Becca Labrador
his glove techniques.
Fun moments were seeing numbered jersey wearers hamming for the camera, with Otter sporting "1", and Lt. Governor Brad Little, "2". In the Idaho Republican Party there is no doubt.

More fun moments were watching the pols autographing baseballs for kids of all ages.

Again, the governor was probably most popular, and he was ever-patient and accommodating. I also enjoyed Pete Nielsen, ever youthful with his ball glove. He brought his mitt--not the presidential hopeful from Massachusetts, but rather one to catch foul balls. He demonstrated his experience and technique more than once.

Senator Risch visits with friends.
Most of the elected participants of Tuesday evening have been to our beautiful valley, as just in 2010 we hosted a widely attended Lincoln Days event at the new school. It was an evening of campaign speeches, community conversations, and our auctioneer Governor helping raise funds. We had hoped to bring them back in 2011 for Lincoln Days, but the community climate was not conducive to hosting.


GOP Party Chairman Norm Semanko cruises the tables
while enjoying his strawberry ice cream.

Butch and Laurie in a brief moment of solitude,
personally managing their burgers, dogs,
baked beans and potato salad.

The evening ended as casually as it began,
although on field, the Hawks had given us
a nice 5-1 victory,
with Paul Hoilman hitting his
15th home run of the year,
tying an all time Boise Hawks record.
That was a special treat, as were burgers
and good conversation with friends.
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