Primary 2012: In Search of Real Democrats


Adam and Karen Nunnally

“If you drive though Nampa, you will not see a single Democratic sign.”

That’s Adam Nunnally, an English student at the College of Western Idaho who runs The Storehouse, a community outreach program in Nampa, shouting over the growing din of the Idaho Democratic Primary Night festivities. Attending the party with his wife, Karen, was his chance to see real Idaho Democrats - a rare breed in Nampa, he said - on Tuesday evening.

With heavily tattooed arms, a salt-and-pepper Mohawk, and designer jeans, he is one of the tallest people at the party.

“This is a learning experience,” he said. This is one of the first political events he and Karen have attended.

Karen helped solidify her husband’s alignment with the Democrats when she began interning with the party this summer. A political science major at the College of Western Idaho, she hopes to transfer to the University of Washington. Eventually, she would like to pursue law at Duke.

“The law and political science go hand-in-hand,” said Karen. She wore her long black hair straight down, and in contrast to her husband, she was among the shortest people at the party.

But as of yet, they still haven’t decided upon any core issues, and have no preferred candidates.

“I don’t even have core issues yet, I’m not going to lie,” she said, smiling. “It helps being able to come and see one of these things and to meet the candidates in person.”

Supportive but critical of President Obama for a perceived willingness to compromise on some of his campaign issues, the couple were first drawn to the Democrats by Bill Clinton, admiring his principled leadership despite his shortcomings.

“He was one of the few people who stuck to his guns, even when he made mistakes,” Adam said.

As freshly minted Democrats, the Nunnallys were shocked by Idaho’s conservative political culture. Adam said being a Democrat in Idaho is like being a political minority.

“Being part of a minority group, it amazes me,” he said. Declining to name names, he said a friend of his had been told that there was a “Democratic caucus voting day,” and was surprised to learn from Adam that the primaries were on the 15th.

“It’s like an urban myth,” Adam said about voter misinformation.

Karen and Adam met at Teleperformance, where Adam was a supervisor and Karen was a customer service representative. He stepped down from that position so they could date without running afoul of their manager.