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.”