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Eye On Boise

AdWatch: New Ahlquist ad targets ‘political insiders’

This screengrab is from Tommy Ahlquist's latest TV campaign commercial, which seeks to contrast him with
This screengrab is from Tommy Ahlquist's latest TV campaign commercial, which seeks to contrast him with "political insiders."

GOP gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist has launched a new TV campaign commercial repeating the claim he made in June that he’d cut $100 million from the state budget in his first 100 days if elected, but offering no new details. Instead, the new ad focuses on Ahlquist as a political outsider, suggesting that “political insiders scoffed” at his claim, but that he, as an outsider, will “prove them wrong.”

Jaclyn Kettler, a BSU political scientist, said Ahlquist’s anti-“political insider” message makes sense in the three-way race, in which the Boise developer and physician faces Lt. Gov. Brad Little and 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador. “It’s a message that I could see appealing to some in the Republican primary who maybe don’t necessarily need deep policy debates at this point, but rather an idea of change,” Kettler said.

You can see my June AdWatch story here for a fact-check on the budget-cut claim. When I pressed Ahlquist back then for specifics on how he’d make those cuts, he offered three: Shifting the state employee health insurance plan to self-funding; consolidating and competitively bidding all state broadband services; and pressing for more competition to find savings on state infrastructure investments. At that point, only the first of the three – which already has been under study by the state for several years – showed the potential for big savings for the state, potentially up to $60 million over three years, according to a state actuarial report.

Dave Johnston, Ahlquist’s campaign manager, said, “We’re not going to go into any more specifics, not at this point.” However, he did say Ahlquist would reveal some during his upcoming 44-county, 44-day tour of the state, which kicks off Sept. 21.

“We’re not talking about cutting education, we’re not talking about cutting any specific program,” Johnston said. “What we’re talking about here is finding specific ways that we are spending our money, and how we can either eliminate those or how we can improve and be more efficient.”

Here’s what the ad says:

“When I said I’d cut $100 million of wasteful spending in my first 100 days as governor, the political insiders scoffed, they said it couldn’t be done. They rejected a new idea in favor of the same old, same old. The political insiders might never do it, but I will. With your support, we’ll work together to prove them wrong, cut wasteful spending, and make Idaho even better with new ideas and a fresh approach.”

Ahlquist, Little and Labrador all are Republicans; the three have been actively campaigning around the state. No major Democratic candidate has yet announced, but a total of 11 candidates have filed initial paperwork to run for the seat, including three independents, one Democrat, and seven Republicans. Among the seven Republicans, three were recruited to run by perennial candidate Lisa Marie; Marie also is running.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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