Been interviewing candidates in North Idaho contested legislative races today for the S-R’s upcoming voter guide; among their comments: Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, said, “I think my district is very much gone Republican. As far as Shoshone County, I think they’re hanging in there Democrats.” Shoshone County in North Idaho’s Silver Valley, from which Shepherd hails, has long been the bastion of traditional lunch-bucket Democrats, but Shepherd is the last Democrat now representing the district, which along with Shoshone County includes all of Benewah County plus half of Bonner and a smidge of Kootenai.
Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, who represents the same district, said folks he’s talked to while campaigning for re-election are “just frustrated - they’re frustrated with the economy and the way things are running.” He added, “On a federal level, they’re so frustrated with the federal government, because it seems like no matter what you say, they’re just going to do what they’re going to do. … The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the frustration of folks with government as a whole.”
His Democratic challenger, Jon Ruggles, the chairman of the East Shoshone Hospital District board and founding member/past president of Friends of Coeur d’Alene Trails, said he’s hearing a different message from voters as he campaigns. “It’s jobs, the level of instability, is my son or daughter going to be able to stay in Idaho? What am I going to do if I lose my job?” Ruggles said, “Really, I’m not hearing ‘let’s go out and sue the federal government,’ which is what Harwood and all those guys want. Let’s spend our money on classes, not courtrooms. When I tell people that, they all nod their heads.”