TWIN FALLS — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan made an appeal to right-leaning and centrist voters in an appearance Monday afternoon at Twin Beans Coffee, describing herself as the leader of a “progressive conservative” movement.
Speaking at a “meet and greet” event in a crowded back corner of the coffee shop, Jordan touched on topics including education, health care, public lands, tax cuts, and criminal justice reform, while rallying attendees to reach out to young people and other untapped voting populations.
Throughout the speech and question-and-answer session, Jordan repeatedly referenced the “grassroots” nature of her campaign and denounced corporate influence in state government.
“We believe that government can be good when it works for the people, and right now it works for the corporations,” Jordan said. “We have bad agents who represent us right now in the statehouse.”
The concept of “progressive conservatism” resonated with Mike McCoy, a local business owner who said he usually leans to the right politically. McCoy said he came to the event at Twin Beans to learn more about Jordan and her platform.
“Coming here to listen to her speak, this is very refreshing,” McCoy said. “You can tell that she’s following the Democratic party line...and she probably has to. But she also crossed those lines.”
Phil Uhlig of Kimberly needed less convincing.
Up until President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, Uhlig said, he had been a Republican. But, turned off by what he sees as shifts in Idaho Republican politicians’ stances on topics such as immigration since then, he plans to vote for Jordan in November.
In an interview with the Times-News after the event, Jordan said she sees supporting small businesses on small-town Main Streets as a priority in the Magic Valley and other rural parts of Idaho.
To Jordan, that means tax cuts for working-class Idahoans and giving local governments more control over wages and local option taxes.
“It seems like everything’s very cyclical, which is to me why ultimately what it comes down to at its heart is local control,” Jordan said. “It’s all about individualism and supporting local control for the people.
“That’s why people say that this is a progressive conservative movement that we haven’t seen in a very long time,” she continued. “It reaches both sides and comes up with solutions that are best for everybody.”
Gloria Bonilla, who came down from Jerome for the event, said she particularly appreciated Jordan’s comments on health care and “making sure [taxes] are being used in a way that is beneficial to the public and not just to private corporations.”
“I’ve just been really excited with what Paulette has been saying and her stance on things,” Bonilla said.
Doug Schwamb of Twin Falls was similarly excited. He said Monday was the third time he had seen Jordan speak.
“I just want to be part of her movement to get things turned around and changed in this state,” Schwamb said. “She has a narrative and a message that is resonating with a lot of people...who have been disenchanted, disenfranchised, getting the short end of the stick.”