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Eye On Boise

Politics heat up, leaves turn

There have been multiple debates already in the race for retiring U.S. Sen. Larry Craig’s seat, but tonight in Lewiston was the first one where GOP candidate Jim Risch joined the other candidates debating. At the three-way matchup between Risch, Democrat Larry LaRocco and independent Rex Rammell, hosted by the Lewiston Morning Tribune, Moscow-Pullman Daily News and KLEW-TV, much of the focus was on the economy; the candidates also sparred over energy, earmarks and more, with Rammell calling global warming a “myth.” Click below to read the full story from AP reporter Todd Dvorak (scroll down to the link to “the rest of this entry”).

There were lots of other political developments in the past couple of days, too. 1st District GOP Rep. Bill Sali held a press conference today claiming his Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick, is to blame for high gas prices because Minnick served on the board of the Wilderness Society, which Sali called a “radical environmental group.” Minnick fired back with a list of Sali votes against alternative energy and in favor of “big oil.” Minnick released a “Republicans for Minnick” TV commercial; Jim Risch released a commercial suggesting he’ll hold scoundrels accountable for the financial crisis and Larry LaRocco said he’d called for a criminal investigation into the crisis two days before Risch’s ad started; and Risch also launched an attack ad against LaRocco, apparently in response to the outside group Majority Action’s attack ad against Risch. I haven’t even had a chance to watch all these ads all the way through yet.

BSU’s College Democrats held a voter registration drive and released a legal opinion critical of warnings for students posted on the Idaho Secretary of State’s Web site; “Idaho law simply requires residency in one’s current county for 30 days, period,” said the opinion from attorney Tom Lloyd. “It does not require students to make any affirmation or speculation that they will remain here in future years.” He encouraged students to bring to the polls their photo ID and a piece of mail at least 30 days old showing their address to fight against any challenges. Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s “Attention College Students” Web page was altered, to change a statement that previously read, “Registering to vote is a serious matter which, if abused, can subject you to criminal penalties.” It now reads, “Registering to vote is a serious matter which should only be done after proper reflection.”

I was over in Sun Valley to speak at the Idaho Judicial Conference, which included a session on courts and the media. I found the 100 or so Idaho judges in attendance thoughtful, interested, and engaged on issues ranging from cameras in the courtroom to access to records to how best to handle high-visibility cases. It was highly constructive and worthwhile. On the way, driving through the brown, sagebrush hills, it just took a turn, a rise and a drop to hit a tiny valley filled with dazzling fall colors, the brightly hued leaves swaying in the breeze. The burst of color was startling and beautiful. It reminded me of the beauty of this season; even in the ugliness that sometimes characterizes politics, it’s all actually part of a beautiful process, the way our system lets us take a role in governing ourselves by making informed choices at the polls. So everybody, watch the debates, learn about the issues, pay attention. Soon the leaves will fall, the votes will be counted and winter will set in, but right now, it’s the season.

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Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.