Why Boise Booted Bieter
In the end, Dave Bieter went out like an aging fighter that didn't hear the winds of change that times were changing. Despite Boise being the envy of the nation in terms of jobs and growth, Boise voters told the four-term mayor is was time for him to go. Bieter, like Hillary Clinton in 2008, was a victim of his once young protege who wasn't taken as a legitimate threat until it was too late to save his campaign.
There will be plenty of time to dissect how Boise City Council President Lauren McClean defeated former Mayor Bieter. The purpose of this article is to look at why Bieter got the boot from Boise.
McClean outworked Bieter. She focused her campaign on his biggest weakness; he doesn't listen. The mayor was like the Titanic heading for that infamous iceberg. Except it was two icebergs, named a new library and a new stadium. Both projects would add millions of new taxes to an already tax fatigued Boise constituency.
Bieter ignored the multiple signs that voters did not want to fund those projects. His arrogance allowed two ballot initiatives to be on the same ballot as his reelection. Boise voters who did not want to pay for a new library and stadium also had the opportunity to send Bieter home.
Bieter's response to the first election results was puzzling. McClean made herself available to anyone who would talk to her. Bieter was MIA. His campaign eventually issued a written statement that reinforced the self-fulfilling prophesy that Boise's mayor was out of touch.
While McClean continued to run as if she was the one who trailed by double digits. The mayor's crew complained of an alleged comment of a 'Basque Mafia,' mailers misstating McClean's homelessness position, and the negative Facebook ads. Voters in Idaho do not respond to negative campaigns. Maybe in California, not in the Treasure Valley. The Boise native should've known better.
On a personal note, for over ten years, we've reached out to have the mayor on our conservative talk show. McClean reached out to us repeatedly to be a guest on the show. Bieter's team reacted to her appearance by appearing to come on the show. They no-showed their scheduled date later, saying it was a scheduling mix up?
Whether it was a mix up or a mistake, who knows, listeners got the message that the Boise mayor was out of touch. Bieter showed the next day and was about as personable as an old shoe left out in the rain.
Most folks believe that Bieter was unbeatable. He skillfully used city resources to fund the 'Be Kind' campaign. (Which would teach Boisians how to be kind.) The LGBTQ folks named him the man of the year at the annual pride event. In the end, it wasn't endorsements, money, or campaigns that doomed Bieter's quest for one more term. Like a great athlete that loses that first step, it was his failure to adjust to changing voter concerns that sent him into retirement.