Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder has had his fill of incivility in the ranks

Senator Chuck Winder, the leader of Idaho’s Senate, is a good and patient man. I often disagree with him on issues coming before the Senate, but I don’t question his ethics, temperament and dedication to serving the public. He has watched a decline in civility in the ranks of the Senate and recently took action to bring some of the instigators up short. He deserves the support of fellow Senators and of the wider public. Legislative business suffers when there is continual internal sniping among the members.

Winder reprimanded Senators Scott Herndon (R-Sagle) and Glenneda Zuiderveld (R-Twin Falls) in a November 6 letter for taking potshots at other Senators. He then called out Sen. Brian Lenney (R-Nampa) for attacking and degrading other Senators and the public. Zuiderveld and Lenney were stripped of leadership positions.

It should not have been a surprise that the three conducted themselves in a disgraceful manner. They won primary races against reputable incumbents in 2022 with ugly, truth-deprived campaigns. Herndon won by running a smear campaign against incumbent Senator Jim Woodward, a Navy veteran and highly regarded legislator. Lenney won by smearing incumbent Jeff Agenbroad, a reasonable, effective Senator. Zuiderveld’s campaign against Jim Patrick, an accomplished legislator, was not much better. The Idaho Freedom Foundation and its affiliates joined in trashing the incumbents, employing generous amounts of out-of-state money.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) really scored with the election of these three to the Senate. They all get a 100% rating on IFF’s education index by doing IFF’s bidding on every education measure coming before the Idaho Senate. To get a 100% rating, you must oppose almost every education funding bill, while supporting measures that would require taxpayers to pay for private and religious schooling. The three even voted against legislation funding their own community colleges–North Idaho College, the College of Western Idaho and the College of Southern Idaho. Loyalty to the IFF takes priority over support for their communities.

The three also scored near the top of IFF’s freedom and spending indexes. It is usually a given that legislators will support those who put their lives at risk to serve in the US military. Yet, the IFF disapproved of funding services for Idaho veterans so the three naturally voted against our veterans.

In addition to their steadfast support for IFF on the Senate floor, the threesome has stood up for IFF’s goals in their local communities. Herndon proudly supported the appointment of Brandon Durst as superintendent of the West Bonner County School District. He gave cover to Durst as that former IFF employee tried to methodically destroy the District’s schools. Luckily, the school patrons woke up and kicked Durst out.

The IFF has come out strong against the Open Primaries Initiative, so the threesome must also oppose it. Zuiderveld kind of misfired on the issue, claiming on social media that the initiative’s sponsor, Reclaim Idaho, is a “communist PAC.” Her tweet had a screenshot of contributors to Reclaim Idaho, including Rich Stivers, a well-regarded Twin Falls Republican whose father served as House GOP Speaker back in the 1980s. She implied that Rich, a Vietnam veteran who put his life at risk fighting the communists, was a commie supporter? Ignorance must be blissful.

I must come to Rich’s defense. I served in Vietnam and had access to communist propaganda. I can attest that the commies never supported open primary elections. In fact, the only elections they supported were ones where the party bosses controlled who got placed on the ballot. If officials departed from the party line, they were severely disciplined. That doesn’t sound like Reclaim Idaho, but it does have a definite flavor of the IFF-supported Dorothy Moon branch of the Idaho GOP.

Zuiderveld has drawn an opponent in the 2024 GOP primary who might be able to explain to her the horrors of communism. Alex Caval knows firsthand. Her family escaped communist Romania and immigrated to the US in 1988. She has done well in Twin Falls and will be a marvelous replacement for Zuiderveld. The other two in the threesome will have a rematch with their 2022 opponents and may also be replaced. Woodward and Agenbroad both say they will be prepared to defend against the smears this time around. Chuck Winder may be able to rest easy by this time next year.

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2 thoughts on “Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder has had his fill of incivility in the ranks”

  1. Forget the IFF rankings for legislators.

    A better test of an Idaho legislator’s ability is how they run their campaigns and how they treat other legislators.

    In order for a governing body to be effective and to represent constituents, the members need to be civil toward one another. Treating every issue as a battle between good and evil, impulsively taking sides and spewing forth inflammatory rhetoric may engage those voters who respond with their limbic system rather than with their cerebral cortex. But it accomplishes nothing.

    Observant Idaho voters are becoming keenly aware that real issues and challenges are being pushed aside by things better addressed at a lower level of governance, beginning with our own ability to self-govern.

    Let’s keep this in focus for 2024. The disconnect between what Idahoans prioritize and the bills promoted during the first two months of the 2023 session was huge. We need fewer ideologues and more problem solvers.

    1. Thanks for your spot-on comment, Mary. There has been so much invective in recent legislative sessions that little of actual import ever gets done. Jim

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