Friday, August 13, 2010

Where The Tetons Lean “Left!”

A hero of mine is Emanuel J. “Mutt” Evans. He was Jewish and elected Mayor of my adopted home of Durham North Carolina from 1951 – 1963, guiding the community through desegregation.

My favorite story about Mayor Evans is when a Judge ordered him to segregate seating at his downtown lunch counter, he just took out all of the seats, letting people comingle. He was obviously very “Durham.”Tetons From the Idaho Side

But you’ll never guess which State was first to elect a Jewish Governor? Pivotal word is “elect” (earlier a Jewish person had become Governor of Georgia through resignation.)

Yup, my birth state of Idaho. As it it is today, from well before statehood, Idaho has always seemed very “Republican” politically, maybe in allegiance to President Abraham Lincoln, under whom it first became a territory.

It is ironic then that the State has produced a number of famous Progressive/Liberal politicians on both sides of the aisle, such as Republican William Borah and Democrat Frank Church. And shortly after statehood in 1890, Boise, the capitol elected a Jewish mayor, Moses Alexander (he had already served two terms as a mayor of a town in Missouri.)

In 1915, elected as a Progressive Democrat, Governor Alexander was seated in the first of two terms as Governor of the State of Idaho, a decade or so after my family homesteaded a ranch and farm over in the Teton-Yellowstone corner.

By the way, you can always tell the “Idaho” side of the Tetons because they curve “left,” I’m sure, just to remind the Gem state that some of its greatest elected leaders have leaned in that direction.

No comments: