You may be hard pressed to find a more over-worked, under-paid group of people than those who staff political campaigns.

Most could make more money doing something other than putting in long hours raising contributions, organizing events and coordinating volunteers. This springs from a dedication to a candidate or professional ambition. Eventually, they hope to be part of a winning campaign, which will lead to a full-time job with a government agency or an elected official's staff.

It all comes crashing down on the campaign staffer who spills his guts about his candidate to the other side. It's tantamount to professional suicide. What politician in her right mind is going to hire someone who has betrayed a previous boss?

Apparently, that arrangement leaves Idaho Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan feeling exposed. When someone goes to work on her campaign, he signs a nondisclosure agreement.

That detail emerged Friday when three Jordan staffers - campaign manager Michael Rosenow, communications director Lisa Newcomb and campaign event scheduler Leah Nemeroff - resigned.

They've not explained why.

"I signed a (nondisclosure agreement) and cannot talk about why," Rosenow told the Idaho Statesman's Cynthia Sewell.

About the only clue was contained in the resignation letter Nemeroff provided to the Statesman. In it, she wrote: "I'm so embarrassed and ashamed. Bye."

There's no need for a Jordan campaign turncoat to squeal on her.

The people trying to elect her opponent, Republican Lt. Gov. Brad Little, know Jordan's campaign has been erratic. Shortly before she won the May 15 Democratic primary, Jordan lost her field and political director, Jennifer Martinez, as well as her deputy campaign manager and treasurer, Emily Mowrer.

They know that Jordan, a former two-term state representative from Plummer, was not held in high esteem by her colleagues. Most endorsed her Democratic primary opponent, Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff. None endorsed Jordan.

"What about the substance? What have you worked on? She tended not to be a team player," former Democratic floor leader John Rusche of Lewiston told columnist Chuck Malloy.

They know the scuttlebutt about Jordan is that she seems more interested campaigning outside the state of Idaho - whether it's getting Cher's endorsement, attending fundraisers in other states, or even drawing the spotlight from CNN and other media outlets.

But if you're an Idaho reporter, you're left trying to track her down on a cellphone with a full voicemail. In fact, nobody could find her Friday to explain the latest round of turnover on her campaign staff.

"It's not a bad communications strategy," Malloy noted, "if she were running for president of the United States. ... "

They know that just weeks before he died, columnist Chris Carlson, former press secretary to the late Gov. Cecil D. Andrus, not only endorsed Little, but called Jordan "the most unqualified candidate I've seen in years. It's shameful that she is carrying the D standard."

They know Jordan botched her resignation from the Legislature in a series of rolling stumbles that left her northern Idaho constituents without full representation in the Legislature for almost a week.

They also know that in ruby red Idaho, registered Republicans enjoy a 4-to-1 advantage over registered Democrats. They know no Democrat has been elected governor since Andrus won in 1990 - and the closest anyone ever came was Jerry Brady's 44 percent against C.L. "Butch" Otter a dozen years ago.

And they know what they know - and you don't - because like any statewide campaign, Republicans have done their opposition research. They undoubtedly have filled files with information about Jordan's liabilities.

Nondisclosure agreements are the stuff of settled lawsuits, not campaign teams. Little's staff members haven't signed one. There's scant evidence that other Idaho candidates have resorted to this tactic.

And the last place you'd expect this trend to emerge is from a political party that has harped incessantly about the need for more transparency and disclosure.

So we're left with the inevitable question: With so many of her unflattering attributes already on public display, what does Jordan want to keep under wraps? - M.T.

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