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T.J. Thomson at the Boise Obama nomination victory party

Leader of Idaho for Obama Savors the Big Night

T.J. Thomson is an Idaho celebrity tonight as Senator Barack Obama finally clinched the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

33-year-old Thomson, a policy analyst at Idaho Power, joined up with volunteer Kassie Cerami more than a year ago. They recruited Obama fans, then took it upon themselves to form Idaho for Obama – long before the Obama campaign had Idaho on their radar screen. Emerging as the leader of the group, Thomson’s organizational skills astonished and delighted Idaho Democratic party regulars and brought thousands of new, mostly younger voters into the progressive movement in Idaho.

Thomson: “I feel like 16 months of hard work have finally come to fruition. On behalf of the volunteers who put in such effort – we’re finally seeing our victory.”

Thomson says he’s running for national delegate at next week’s state Democratic convention in Boise. Despite the near-certainty of his election in that role, he’s humble and talks about what he’s doing to campaign for the seat.

Of the state convention, Thomson pointed out that “we have the potential to lock up an additional national delegate for Obama” and he’s determined to do that, even though it’s not technically necessary. Clinton has three Idaho at-large delegates available.

“We’ve sent a message that Idaho is finally up for grabs in the presidential race – after 50 years. Lyndon Johnson was the last Democrat to take Idaho.”

His prediction for November? “I don’t take anything for granted, but I do think there is potential for a landslide – all the markers are there for drastic change.”

And for Veep? “Hillary will make the short list, but choosing her would be problematic for all but the left wing of the party, and hurt us in the middle.”

Thomson likes Indiana Senator Evan Bayh for Obama’s running mate. “He’s a conservative Democrat who is well respected – he was strongly connected to Clinton and represents the general demographic as well.”

“Obama has appeal across the west, and he’s highlighted that. Idaho wasn’t part of his strategy, but we built it, and he came to see us.”

Did Obama truly think the February turnout of 17,000 at BSU’s Taco Bell Arena was surprising?

He did, said Thomson. “One of our volunteers was driving David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager, and Obama’s ‘body man’ to the arena, and when they heard the noise and saw the lines they went nuts exclaiming about ‘this is Idaho?’”

Finally, what did he think of Hillary’s speech ending with “I’m making no decisions tonight”?

Superdelegate and Democratic national committeewoman, former state senator Gail Bray, answered that for Thomson. “She’s all done. This is her chance to bargain for a few things, so she is effectively conceding with the maximum amount of leverage – which is what the Clintons do.”

About Jill Kuraitis

Jill Kuraitis is an award-winning journalist who specializes in news of Idaho and the Rocky Mountain West. Her B.A. in theatre management is from UC Santa Barbara, and she went on to work in theatre, film, and politics before writing became a career. Kuraitis has two excellent grown children and lives in Boise with her husband of 30 years, abundant backyard wildlife, and two huge hairy dogs.

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  1. Seriously? Only the far left would be happy with Hillary as VP? She’s pretty centrist and the far left can’t stand her. The far left stood behind Edwards and then Obama when Edwards suspended his campaign.

  2. Yeah that comment didn’t make any sense Jessica.

  3. It is a great thing T.J. Thomson and Kassie Cerami did for the Obama movement in Idaho and activated a large population of progressive Idaho democrats who have no identity with the Idaho democratic party’s archaic old school candidates. They should be recognized by the Idaho democratic party.

    It is very disappointing that the old school Idaho democrats who control democratic politics in Idaho were for Hillary, and had absolutely no ability to organize that amount of people and these two Obama volunteers have put a state democratic party to shame.

    Those archaic old Idaho democrats who are obviously out of touch and unable to appeal to the contemporary progressive voter had better act appropriately. Currently those candidates are invisible to the people on issues and weak on presentation, we can only hope they don’t screw this election up.

  4. As a policy adviser for Idaho Power, is he the chief salmon killer, or just one of the salmon killers? Does he occupy the Frank Church seat on the policy board? The seat devoted to making Idaho Power an entity unto themselves, beyond governance?

    Maybe, just maybe, naw. Never happen. Obama won’t know his name next month. And Hell’s Canyon dam, Dworshak Dam, will still be the end of the line for salmon and steelhead.

  5. Thanks Jessica & Sisyphus –
    I must disagree with you here. The far left did not “stand behind Obama”. Obama has brought an unbelievable amount of new life into our party, including independents and moderate Republicans. You would be very hard pressed to find a single poll where Hillary was doing the same. Regardless of H. Clinton’s policy choices as Senator, the perception about her is that she is far left, while voting trends have shown that the middle is voting for Obama. H. Clinton is more than qualified to be President or Vice President, but I do not believe she is the right choice as we work to unite both parties and heal our fractured Country.

    Bear Bait-
    It is obvious that you are upset with Idaho Power, but my connections with the Obama campaign and employment status with Idaho Power have absolutely no connection and no relevance in this debate.

    TJ Thomson