Asked by Eye on Boise why he’s looking at a possible run for governor – against a popular two-term sitting governor from his own party – Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, said, “I just feel like we’re going down the wrong path.” Fulcher, who filed paperwork over the weekend allowing him to begin raising funds for a possible challenge to Gov. Butch Otter in the GOP primary, said, “It is not a firm decision at this point, but what it does allow us to do is take the exploratory steps over the next few weeks. … We’ll be talking to people across the state and evaluating whether or not it’s a good idea, and whether or not there appears to be some broad-based support.”
Fulcher said the state health insurance exchange isn’t the only issue on which he differs from Otter. “I don’t think we’re on the same page with the lands issue,” he said. “I don’t think we’re on the same page, at least in terms of approach, with education.” But, he said, “Not all issues are created equal, OK? And this health care issue is a big, big deal. Here we’ve got Idaho voluntarily engaging with a program that Americans don’t want, Idahoans don’t want, and just as predicted, you’ve got the program failing out of the gate.”
Fulcher said it’ll take him “several weeks” to determine whether or not to make the run. “To do it right, you have to interact with people all over the state, so we’ll be embarking on that here in short order,” he said. “My intent is not to try to throw Butch Otter personally in the crosshairs all the time. … I’m much more focused on trying to share an alternate vision and see if there’s receptiveness to it.”
Fulcher, a commercial real estate agent, spent 24 years in high tech, working at Micron Technology for 15 years, followed by nine years as vice president of sales and marketing for Preco Electronics; he grew up on a Meridian dairy farm. He was appointed to the Idaho Senate in 2005 by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne after the resignation under pressure of then-Sen. Jack Noble amid an ethics scandal. Fulcher said, “I’m more interested in doing what I believe is right than what’s popular. The day that I can’t look myself in the mirror and say that, look, regardless of the circumstances, I stood up for what I believe, then that’s the day I need to be gone.”
In the Senate, where Fulcher is seen as a rising leader of the GOP’s most conservative wing, he’s been an opponent of granting anti-discrimination protections to gays; sponsored successful legislation to make assisted suicide a felony; opposed legislation strengthening state day-care licensing as “government intrusion;” backed highway bonding plans that upgraded I-84 in his district; and sponsored a 2007 law requiring parental consent for minors’ abortions.