A Conservative Collapse in the Rocky Mountain West

In 2005, I wrote a national op-ed for Knight Ridder newspapers that showed how when right-wing congressional politicians return home as governors from the fantasy land known as Washington, D.C., they often drop their conservative economic elitism in the face of reality. Last week, I wrote that the conservative movement in the Rocky Mountain West is seeing this same economic elitism decline as an effective political cudgel, and not surprisingly, many Rocky Mountain states are watching their Republican parties descend into disrepair (here in Colorado, for instance, the GOP has resorted to hiring as party chairman the same supposed "guru" who most recently helped commandeer his boss George Allen from leading presidential candidate to historical cautionary tale). Now, up in Idaho, we see the convergence of both of these phenomena, as Gov. Butch Otter (R) has become yet another conservative Washington-insider-turned-home-state-economic-realist and yet another Rocky Mountain Republican fleeing his own party's elite consensus.

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