The Lead

Fetterman to give keynote at Idaho Democratic Party dinner in March. Yes, Idaho.

By: - January 30, 2024 12:46 pm

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) at a campaign event for President Joe Biden at Montgomery County Community College January 5, 2024. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) will be the keynote speaker for the Idaho Democratic Party’s annual gathering in Boise next month, perhaps the highest-profile Democrat to visit the deep red Gem State this election cycle.

The Idaho Democratic Party describes the 30th annual Frank and Bethine Church Gala March 9 as the “premier social event for Idaho Democrats” which will welcome hundreds of party members from across the state.

“I ran on a slogan of ‘every county, every vote’ because I think it’s important for Democrats to go everywhere and talk to everyone,” Fetterman said in a press release. “We need to be making our case to voters in every part of the state and every part of the county – that’s how Democrats can still win in rural areas.”

Fetterman added that he doesn’t have aspirations to turn a conservative state like Idaho blue — since 2012, the GOP presidential candidate has won Idaho by at least 30 points and is expected to once again deliver the state’s four electoral votes to the GOP this cycle. But, he said, “politics is about addition, not subtraction — and margins matter.”

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea pointed to Fetterman’s 2022 victory over Republican Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race as a “testament to what can be accomplished when Democrats invest and compete everywhere.” 

“John exemplifies the independent spirit, bold leadership, and commitment to working families that resonate with Idahoans,” Nehochea said in a press release.

In 2020, Donald Trump carried Idaho, receiving just under 64% of the vote, while Joe Biden received 33%. Idaho has not backed a Democratic candidate for president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

Pennsylvania Democrats have been busy over the past several months promoting the party’s message in other states— some that figure a bit more prominently into the electoral calculus than Idaho. In November, Fetterman was the headline speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual Liberty & Justice Dinner.

Gov. Josh Shapiro was the keynote speaker at a gathering of New Hampshire Democrats in September, where he promoted his administration’s “GSD attitude.” The appearance continued to fuel speculation about a potential future run for the presidency, although he brushed such chatter aside. And state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination for Pennsylvania Auditor General, hit the campaign trail in South Carolina earlier this month on behalf of the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign.

Boise Mayor Lauren McLean, Idaho House of Representatives Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, and Necochea are also featured speakers for the Idaho gathering.

All of the proceeds for the event will benefit the Idaho Democratic Party.

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John Cole
John Cole

John Cole is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He's worked for various outlets such as The Northeast Times, PoliticsPA, and PCN. In these previous roles, he covered a wide range of topics from local civic association meetings to races across the commonwealth. He earned a degree in journalism from Temple University.