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Debate goes on without Otter

Ignoring the elephant in the room – or, more accurately, the elephant NOT in the room – two candidates for governor focused on issues as they faced off in the League of Women Voters-Idaho Press Club debate on Idaho Public TV on Sunday night. Democrat Jerry Brady and Libertarian Ted Dunlap quizzed each other on the minimum wage, public lands and trimming the cost of government, and weighed in on issues from wolves to dam-breaching to education.

Missing was Republican Butch Otter, who declined to participate.

Brady said if he’s elected governor, he won’t be pro-Democrat or pro-Republican. “I will be the pro-Idaho governor,” he said. “I will try to unite the state.” Dunlap urged a vote for his Libertarian Party agenda. “We could have smaller government,” he said.

Among the highlights: Brady said, “Wolves are predators – they should be hunted like bear and cougars.” Both candidates praised home-schoolers, and Brady revealed that a youngster named Sam who appears in one of his campaign commercials is home-schooled. Brady called for raising the minimum wage, saying, “It’s a moral issue to me … a matter of right and wrong. It’s a matter of helping our families.” Dunlap maintained that government shouldn’t interfere if “two people agree on a contract” for a certain wage. Brady said he’s not an advocate of breaching lower Snake River dams, saying, “I’m not running to take them out.” Dunlap said he’d convene a commission to try to trim Idaho’s prison population, while Brady said he favors community drug treatment programs like Utah’s and special drug-offender prisons to try to treat and divert drug offenders rather than offer them only long-term incarceration. “We surely can do better,” he said. Dunlap spoke out against HJR 2, the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment that also would ban civil unions or domestic partnerships, saying people’s relationships are not the government’s business. “I am ashamed that our statehouse put this in front of the voters,” he said.

Brady’s wife, Rickie, accidentally spilled some TV makeup on Brady’s shirt before the broadcast while helping the candidate prepare for the program, which was remedied with an old TV trick – “White-Out” correction fluid applied directly onto the shirt. Moderator Marcia Franklin noted before the program began that she’d gotten an ink mark on her own bright-red shirt, and crew members said they didn’t have any “red-out” for that. Dunlap’s wife, Missy, offered a Libertarian campaign button to hide the ink mark, but it was declined.

Asked what two things they’d do to improve Idaho’s education system, Dunlap said he had just one – a $5,000 tax deduction for private school tuition or scholarships – and Brady cited improving early-childhood education and expanding community colleges.

Tonight, both candidates will face off again in a debate in Twin Falls sponsored by Boise TV station KTVB, this time with the addition of two other candidates, Otter and Constitution Party candidate Marvin “Pro-Life” Richardson.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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