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Eye On Boise

1st CD candidates go up against ‘The Voice’

Moderator Dee Sarton opened the 1st Congressional District debate tonight at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa with a quote from a listener, who sent in this message: “So sad primetime line-up is being interrupted for the same-old, it’s someone else’s fault campaign crud.” Sarton urged the two candidates, Congressman Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, to keep that viewer in mind as they delivered their opening comments – and try to persuade voters not to switch to the 24/7 cable channel for the regularly scheduled program, “The Voice.”

“I know The Voice is important - my family loves it and my family loves watching the show,” Labrador said mid-way through his opening statement.

IEN contract dispute shows no signs of resolution, state could be on hook for millions more…

Syringa Networks, the company that sued over the 2009 broadband contract for the Idaho Education Network, is now demanding $17 million to settle the dispute, Idaho Education News reports. House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt today dubbed the request “outrageous,” and the dispute appears unlikely to end soon. It’s already forced the state to put $11.4 million in state taxpayer funds into the IEN because the feds have refused to provide their three-quarters of the IEN’s funding with the contract award in dispute. The disputed contract went to Education Networks of America and Qwest, now known as CenturyLink. In the coming legislative session, lawmakers could be asked to hand over millions more. EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a full report here.

Debates, debates, debates…

KTVB Channel 7 has two major political debates on tap tonight, both to be broadcast live from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. At 7 p.m., 1st Congressional District Rep. Raul Labrador will debate Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo. At 8 p.m., it’s the governor’s race.

The station also has two live debates scheduled tomorrow night: 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson will debate Democratic challenger Richard Stallings at 7 p.m.; and state school superintendent candidates Jana Jones and Sherri Ybarra will face off at 8 p.m.

On Thursday, the debate between state Treasurer Ron Crane and Democratic challenger Deborah Silver will air statewide on Idaho Public Televison as part of the “Idaho Debates.” It starts at 8:30 p.m.

Ybarra has skipped 15 of the last 17 state elections, including every general election since she moved to Idaho

Sherri Ybarra, the Republican candidate for state superintendent of schools, has skipped at least 15 of the last 17 state elections, Idaho Education News reports, and hasn’t voted in a November general election since she moved to Mountain Home in 1996. “We have all missed an election or two in our lifetime, and I am not exempt from that,” Ybarra said during a Sept. 26 City Club of Boise candidate forum, responding to questions about why she didn’t vote in the 2012 general election, when the controversial “Students Come First” school reform laws championed by current Superintendent Tom Luna were on the ballot; voters repealed the laws.

But when Idaho EdNews checked further, it found that Ybarra registered to vote on June 16, 2010, but did not vote in that year’s general election, nor in any other general election in Idaho since 1996. Elmore County records did show she voted in GOP primary elections in May 2012 and May 2014, in a city election in 2011 and in a Mountain Home School District levy election earlier this year.

Jana Jones, the Democratic candidate for superintendent, has voted in every general election since 2002, when Bonneville County officials first started tracking voting histories, EdNews reporter Clark Corbin found. Jones also voted in state primary elections in 2006, 2010 and 2014; you can read Corbin's full report here.

AdWatch: RGA again goes after Idaho guv hopeful Balukoff

The Republican Governors Association launched a new anti-A.J. Balukoff TV ad in Idaho today, this one using a video clip from the governors’ debate in Coeur d'Alene debate where Balukoff momentarily lost his place in his opening remarks. The ad suggests Balukoff “needs a script,” and repeats several claims from an earlier RGA ad attempting to tie Balukoff, a Democrat, to President Barack Obama, while adding several new ones as well. Balukoff actually voted for Mitt Romney in the last presidential election.

“Tying Balukoff again to Obama and to gun control could be hurtful,” said Jim Weatherby, emeritus professor at Boise State University and a longtime observer of Idaho politics. “Those are two hot-button issues. But as to losing his place in his presentation, that’s pretty shallow stuff.”

The video clip is from Balukoff’s two-minute opening remarks at the Coeur Group’s Oct. 3 debate at the Coeur d’Alene Library. Otter visibly read from prepared remarks during his opening comments, while Balukoff largely spoke without looking at his text – except when he lost his place.

“It’s a rather cheap shot,” said Mike Lanza, spokesman for Balukoff’s campaign. He called the commercial “just a rehash of the same distortions and misrepresentations of A.J.’s positions that we’ve … seen from supporters of Gov. Otter.”

Weatherby said, “In comparative ads, or attack ads, you’re less concerned about what is completely true, and more concerned about what works. And negative ads, people hate, but often are influenced by.” He added, “The difference between the Otter and the Balukoff campaigns is the Otter campaign either has or is benefiting from attack ads, and Balukoff is not using them.”  You can read my full AdWatch story here at

Otter: ‘We have done all we can through the courts for now to defend traditional marriage in Idaho’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter just issued this statement:

“The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued its mandate for enforcement of decisions overturning the Idaho Constitution’s prohibition on same-sex marriage effective at 10 a.m. MDT, 9 a.m. PDT on Wednesday, October 15. I continue to believe that the federal courts are mistaken in abandoning the sanctity of traditional marriage and in undermining the will of Idaho voters and each state’s right to define marriage. But we are civil society that respects the rule of law. We have done all we can through the courts for now to defend traditional marriage in Idaho.”

Asked if that final comment means Otter is dropping his appeals in Idaho’s court fight to defend its ban on same-sex marriage, Mark Warbis, Otter’s communications director, said, “It says exactly what we wanted to say, exactly what it does say.” Asked if Otter has filed any further motions or appeals in the case today, Warbis said no, but wouldn’t comment on whether Otter might file anything further after today. “It says 'for now,'” he said.

Todd Dvorak, spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, said, “We are keeping our legal options open,” but he said, “We don’t have anything planned today or tomorrow.”

Idaho insurance exchange gears up its own signup system for Nov. 15 launch

Idaho's state health insurance exchange,, is gearing up for the launch of its own Internet sign-up system on Nov. 15, the start of the next open enrollment period for health plans through the exchange, the Idaho State Journal reports. “Launching our own technology platform brings all elements of the exchange into Idaho and puts Idahoans in control of our own fate,” exchange board Chairman Stephen Weeg said. “The technology will be ours, our customer service representatives will be in Idaho, and we will continue to work with Idaho agents and brokers.” When Idaho's exchange first began operating, it routed customers through the federal health insurance exchange online platform, while starting work to develop its own in-state. Click below for a full report from the State Journal and the Associated Press.

Woodings calls on Denney to give up state retirement pension; no response yet from Denney

Idaho Secretary of State candidate Holli Woodings is calling on her GOP opponent, former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, to give up his state pension, in light of his comments at a live debate last week that he doesn’t believe elected officials should be on the state pension system. “If we want a fair and honest person as our next secretary of state, that person should be willing to live under the same rules he or she wants everybody else to live under,” Woodings declared.

Denney didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Woodings’ challenge, which she made in a news release distributed to news media statewide. During last week’s debate, he repeatedly called for removing all elected officials from the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho. But he also suggested they should get some other type of retirement compensation to offset that. “I think that if you remove the retirement portion totally from all legislators, if you remove that retirement portion from all elected officials and give them the compensation so that they could put it in their own 401K or whatever, I think we could do that and do it very painlessly,” he said.

Under a special provision, longtime Idaho lawmakers who take high-paying state jobs at the end of their careers qualify for full retirement pensions as if they’d been full-time state employees all those years. When legislation was proposed in 2012 to do away with that perk for lawmakers, Denney, then speaker of the House, killed the bill. Under the provision, his state pension would jump from roughly $500 a month to roughly $3,600 a month for life if he wins the election and serves one four-year term as secretary of state. You can read my full story here at

Three candidates for governor to debate tonight in Nampa: Otter, Balukoff and Pankey…

Three candidates for governor of Idaho will face off in a live debate tonight at 8 on Boise TV station KTVB, broadcast from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. The three: GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, and Constitution Party candidate Steve Pankey.

Libertarian candidate John Bujak, who debated Otter and Balukoff in an Oct. 3 debate in Coeur d’Alene, along with independent candidate “Pro-Life,” and who is also scheduled to debate Otter and Balukoff on Idaho Public TV on Oct. 30, is crying foul at his exclusion from the Nampa matchup. But KTVB told Bujak he didn’t meet its criteria for participation in the debate, the AP reports, including $10,000 in outside donations. Pankey also didn’t meet that, but qualified under a separate criteria for candidates who had received at least 10 percent of the vote in a previous statewide race; Pankey ran in the GOP primary election for lieutenant governor in 2010 and received 13.5 percent of the vote.

UPDATE: Bujak has been providing additional information to KTVB, and just sent out this tweet: “I believe that KTVB is going to allow me to participate in tonight's debate. I should have confirmation before noon. Stay tuned!”

At the first debate in the governor’s race in Twin Falls on Sept. 24, just Balukoff and Bujak faced off, after Otter declined to participate. The Oct. 9 Idaho Falls City Club debate featured just Otter and Balukoff. Click below for more from AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi.

Former Otter lawyer charges bias in 9th Circuit’s three-judge panel selection

Monte Neil Stewart, the attorney who represented both Idaho and Nevada in oral arguments at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in same-sex marriage cases, today leveled a highly unusual charge at the 9th Circuit: That the three-judge panel selected to hear Idaho’s and Nevada’s cases wasn’t selected through a “neutral” process, and instead was purposely stacked with judges favorable to same-sex marriage in order to achieve an outcome favorable to the plaintiffs.

“We bring the issue of bias in the selection process to the Circuit’s attention with respect and with a keen awareness that questioning the neutrality of the panel’s selection could hardly be more serious,” Stewart wrote in legal filings today with the 9th Circuit, requesting a full en banc review of Nevada’s case. “But the sensitivity of raising uncomfortable questions for this Circuit must be balanced against the interests of ordinary Nevadans, who deserve a fair hearing before a novel interpretation of constitutional law deprives them of the right to control the meaning of marriage within their State.”

Stewart contended that a statistical analysis he had completed by an expert statistician shows it’s highly unlikely that 9th Circuit Judges Stephen Reinhardt and Marsha Berzon would be selected to hear Nevada’s case, after also sitting on, in Reinhardt’s case, four other cases in the past five years dealing with gay rights, and in Berzon’s, five other cases. “Sophisticated statistical analysis validates the reasonable person’s sense that something is amiss,” Stewart wrote. “Judges Reinhardt and Berzon are publicly perceived to be favorably disposed to arguments for expanding the rights of gay men and lesbians, more so than all or nearly all other judges in this Circuit. That perception gives rise to an appearance of an uneven playing field.”

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Va., who has closely followed same-sex marriage cases, said an biased selection process is “virtually unheard of” in federal appeals courts. “The three-judge panels are randomly drawn,” Tobias said. “It is virtually unheard of that the people in charge of the process would game the system. My whole sense of the federal appeals courts is that the judges are too professional to allow that to happen.”

You can read Stewart’s full petition for rehearing here. Stewart was Gov. Butch Otter’s private attorney for Idaho’s unsuccessful appeal to the 9th Circuit, after a U.S. magistrate judge overturned Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage in May as unconstitutional. In his latest legal filings, Otter has replaced Stewart with Washington, D.C. attorney Gene Schaerr.

AdWatch: Otter’s new commercial focuses on education

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter launched his third television campaign ad in southern Idaho over the weekend; focusing largely on education. It is scheduled to go statewide on Tuesday, including the Spokane broadcast TV market. Here’s a look at the ad and its claims:

WHAT IT SAYS: “We’ve made Idaho one of America’s best places to start a small business. And we’re also making it a great state to get a good education. We got $35 million dollars back in the classroom. And we put broadband into every high school. And now I have a 20-point education plan that will fund additional technology and reinvest in our teachers so they’re amongst the best in the nation. Great jobs, great schools. I’m working hard to build a brighter future.”

Narrator: “Butch Otter, governor.”

THE CLAIMS: The claim about being one of the best places to start a small business is a repeat from one of Otter’s earlier commercials, and is based on a Governing Magazine survey of small business owners, in which Idaho was one of three states getting an “A-plus.”

The $35 million claim refers to Otter’s proposal this year – which the Legislature approved as part of the public school budget – to restore $35 million of the $82 million in operating funds that were cut from Idaho’s schools during the recession. “I have committed to replenish classroom dollars and we are poised to continue building on this year’s $35 million investment,” Otter said in a statement today. Otter’s Task Force on Improving Education made 20 recommendations, including a new, more generous teacher pay system tied to a “career ladder” and a new tiered licensing system; improving school technology; and restoring the $82 million in cuts.

Otter launched the Idaho Education Network to bring broadband to every Idaho high school; the state’s contract award to Education Networks of America and CenturyLink, however, has been challenged in court, prompting the federal government to withhold millions in funding for the broadband network that the state has had to replace from its general fund to keep the network operating at Idaho high schools.

“It’s one of the state’s most popular politicians doing his own ad,” said Jim Weatherby, longtime observer of Idaho politics and emeritus professor at Boise State University. “I think that’s effective. Some speculate we have ‘Otter fatigue,’ and maybe that’s true, but I still think he’s a pretty effective spokesperson for his campaign.” 

Online: You can watch the ad here.

Of ‘fly-by-night payday loan’ operators, voter turnout, and vested rights…

The legal arguments that Gov. Butch Otter submitted to the 9th Circuit today in his unsuccessful bid to continue a stay on same-sex marriage in Idaho included some unusual ones, including his contention that if the 9th Circuit were to lift the stay, it would “improperly treat the sovereign State of Idaho as an ordinary litigant, entitled to no more respect than a fly-by-night payday loan business or massage parlor.” Asked about that, Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the plaintiffs in Idaho’s same-sex marriage case, said, “It’s rare to see language like that. … I thought it was inappropriate. Truly, I thought it was bizarre.” She added, “I don’t think it added anything to their brief or their argument, and clearly, the court wasn’t swayed by it.”

Otter’s new legal arguments today also included a contention that allowing gay marriage to start in Idaho would dissuade people from voting in the upcoming election. “If laws passed by state legislatures can be overturned without the state having an opportunity for full appellate review before the law loses its force, why should ordinary citizens bother to vote for state office-holders?” Otter’s filing asked. Ferguson called that argument “completely without merit” and “a desperate sort of argument.”

Otter also contended today that if the 9th Circuit doesn’t prevent Idaho same-sex couples from getting legal marriage licenses, the case will essentially be over – once some have wed, they’ll have a “vested right” to having the state continue to recognize their marriages. “If the state ultimately prevails, the couples so married will undoubtedly claim – as they did in Utah – that they now have a ‘vested right’ to the marital status they achieved as a result of this court’s decision,” wrote Gene Schaerr, attorney for Otter. “And the only legal authority on this question indicates that those couples will be correct.”

Said Ferguson: “I think he’s right.” You can read my full, updated story online here.

9th Circuit lifts stay, effective Wed. morning

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued an order lifting the stay that blocked same-sex marriage from starting in Idaho - effective Wednesday morning. That's 9 a.m. Wednesday, the order says; so that would be 10 a.m. Boise time. 

The plaintiffs hadn't yet filed their reply to today's filings from Gov. Butch Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “I guess they kind of knew what we were going to say. So that's just fantastic.”

You can see the 9th Circuit's order here.

State files responses, Wasden drops opposition to stay on gay marriage, Otter doesn’t

The state has filed its responses with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal on the stay in the same-sex marriage case, and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has dropped his opposition to the stay – but Gov. Butch Otter has not. You can read my full story here at Wasden, in his five-page filing, said he and his clients, Ada County Clerk Christopher Rich and the state of Idaho, “do not oppose” the motion to lift the stay. Wasden’s filing says he and his clients have concluded, “given the actions taken by the Supreme Court … that they cannot satisfy the stringent standards governing issuance of stays.” He notes, however, that that “should not be interpreted as a concession to the correctness of this court’s Oct. 7 decision.” Wasden’s filing leaves open the possibility of further appeals in the case, but concedes that same-sex marriages can legally start in Idaho now under the 9th Circuit's ruling.

Otter’s filing, by private attorney Gene Schaerr in Washington, D.C., takes umbrage at the idea that the stay would be lifted before “reasonable appellate options have been exhausted,” saying, “Granting that motion would … improperly treat the sovereign State of Idaho as an ordinary litigant, entitled to no more respect than a fly-by-night payday loan business or massage parlor.”

It repeats the arguments made to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday attempting unsuccessfully to get that court to continue to block gay marriage in Idaho: That Idaho is likely to succeed in appealing the case either at the 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court; that Idaho’s case is different because it involves a heightened standard of review adopted by the 9th Circuit; that allowing same-sex marriage is bad for children; and that it violates the state’s sovereignty, because Idaho voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 2006.

It also adds a new argument: That allowing gay marriage to start in Idaho would dissuade people from voting in the upcoming election. “If laws passed by state legislatures can be overturned without the state having an opportunity for full appellate review before the law loses its force, why should ordinary citizens bother to vote for state officer-holders?” Otter’s filing asks.

There’s also another new argument posed: That if the stay is lifted and same-sex couples are issued marriage licenses, they’ll claim a “vested right to the marital status they achieved as a result of this court’s decision and its vacatur of the current stay. And the only legal authority on this question indicates that those couples will be correct.”

You can read Wasden’s filing here, and Otter’s here.

AdWatch: Balukoff’s two latest ads airing statewide, Otter launches new one

Democratic candidate for governor A.J. Balukoff has launched two new TV ads statewide in the past week and a half – including the Spokane broadcast TV market – and GOP Gov. Butch Otter launched a new one over the weekend. I’ll take a look at the claims in Otter’s new ad later, but here’s a look at Balukoff’s commercials and their claims:

School superintendent ad: Starting a week and a half ago, Balukoff began airing an ad featuring Shoshone School District Superintendent Rob Waite; you can see it here. Here’s what Waite says in the ad:

“I’m Rob Waite and I’ve been an educator for 25 years. Let me tell you, we’re shortchanging our students. Under Gov. Otter we’ve fallen to 50th in the nation in what we invest per student. We have trouble holding onto our best teachers and our classrooms are too crowded. Close to 40 school districts in Idaho have gone to a four-day school week. I’ve been a Republican all my adult life. I don’t think I’ve ever voted for a Democrat. But this November I’m voting for A.J. Balukoff. To me it’s about more than politics. It’s about our students and our future.”

THE CLAIMS: Idaho’s ranking for per-pupil funding, from all sources, dropped to 51st in the nation in the latest U.S. Census report, issued in May and covering data from fiscal year 2012. That’s after all states and the District of Columbia. A separate measure of per-pupil spending in specific areas put Idaho 50th, ahead of only Utah. According to the latest tally from the Idaho State Department of Education, 42 Idaho school districts and 11 charter schools have gone to four-day school weeks.

Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor and longtime observer of Idaho politics, said, “He’s getting outside Boise, with the Shoshone superintendent, which I think is effective, and he’s obviously trying to reach out to Republicans, having a dyed-in-the-wool Republican endorse him and lay out the case for the difficult condition education is in in this state.”

Otter’s new ad also focuses on education, attempting to paint a sunnier picture.

Movie trailer ad: Balukoff’s newest ad was circulating online earlier, but now has launched on broadcast TV statwide; you can see it here.  A spoof of movie trailers, it opens with a version of the ratings form that appears at the beginning of feature film trailers, but says, “The following PREVIEW has been approved for ALL AUDIENCES. The candidate advertised has been rated G – GOOD LEADERSHIP. All voters admitted.”

In the ad, with dramatic, swelling music and images, a narrator says, “When the good ol’ boy system stops progress and keeps Idaho in last place, there’s A.J. Balukoff – the accountant. A job creator who’s built successful businesses. Balukoff will get our economy moving again. A parent and school board president, Balukoff will fight for the resources students need. Because Idaho’s success is A.J. Balukoff’s only goal.”

THE CLAIMS: This ad makes few claims. Like earlier Balukoff ads, it accurately presents Balukoff’s background as a successful businessman, accountant and former owner of a large CPA firm, and longtime president of the Boise School Board.

“Our feeling was that people tend to tune out traditional political campaign ads as soon as they see it come up on the TV, and aren’t very inspired by them,” said Balukoff campaign spokesman Mike Lanza. “So we wanted to do something that was kind of fun to get people’s attention and make them more aware of A.J. Balukoff. … It was intended as an attention-grabber.”

Weatherby said, “It’s a rather unique ad which stands out a bit, an ad that’s actually somewhat entertaining.” He noted, “Again, no hint at how all this good stuff would be accomplished.” However, he said, “Whatever you can do to attract attention at this point as the campaign noise gets louder will make a difference. It’s kind of a fun ad.”

Risch, Mitchell vie for U.S. Senate in Idaho

When he was Idaho’s governor for a scant seven months, Jim Risch was a whirlwind of activity, writing an unprecedented management plan for roadless areas, reforming the state Department of Health and Welfare and nursing education programs, and calling a special session of the Legislature to enact a sweeping and controversial shift of the state’s school funding system, raising the sales tax while lowering property taxes.

But in the past six years serving as Idaho’s junior senator in Washington, D.C., Risch’s legislative accomplishments have been slim. According to the official records of Congress, he’s been the lead sponsor on 11 bills, just two of which have become law, both dealing with specific, small water projects in Southern Idaho. In the current Congress, he’s co-sponsored 188 bills, with the largest group aimed at reducing environmental regulations. In the 90 votes he has cast in the Senate since June, he voted “no” nearly two-thirds of the time.

Risch says it’s no surprise that as a conservative Republican in a Senate controlled by Democrats, his proposals don’t move forward. “Those of us that are on the conservative side of the ledger never get bills on the floor for a vote,” he said. “When you’re in the minority, the job is different. … The minority is the opposition, that’s what they do – they oppose.” Risch, who is facing a challenge from Boise attorney Nels Mitchell, said that in his six-year term “my expectations were exceeded by what I am able to accomplish with constituent services and in non-legislative matters.”

Mitchell, a Democrat, sees it differently. “It’s an absence of a record,” Mitchell said. “He has done virtually nothing in his six years back in Washington. … I haven’t seen anything of any substance that he has initiated.” Mitchell said effective senators work across the aisle to craft solutions to problems. “Voting ‘no’ perhaps makes the job easy, but that’s not why we elect senators,” Mitchell said. You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.

Denney appears to advocate controversial changes in Idaho elections, then backs off

Lawerence Denney, the Republican candidate for Idaho secretary of state, this week backed off from statements he’d made in suggesting he’d do away with Idaho’s primary election. “I think you misunderstood what I said,” Denney told reporters during a live debate on Idaho Public TV against his opponent, state Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise. “Certainly I do believe that a primary election is not necessarily an election at all, it’s a nomination process, and it is a party nomination process, and I think the parties deserve to choose their own candidates.”

A day earlier, in a debate at the City Club of Boise, Denney said, “I think it’s important that Republicans nominate Republican candidates and that Democrats nominate Democrat candidates, and I think that there could be a process that’s a lot better than what we’re doing now.” But at the public TV debate, he said, “We have a long tradition of having the primary and having the ballot. What I am concerned about is having the taxpayers of the state of Idaho actually paying for a party nomination process.”

Woodings said, “I support primary elections. I believe that if they’re open and available to all the voters of Idaho to choose which primary they would like to vote in, that that’s absolutely something that we should be administering as a state.”

It wasn’t the first time Denney has taken what appears to be a controversial position during the campaign, and then stepped back from it. He appeared to be calling for requiring voters to be fingerprinted at the polls before they could vote, then said that wasn’t what he meant. He was highly critical of same-day voter registration at the polls – something Idaho and just seven other states offer – saying it “overwhelms” the system and can perpetuate fraud. But when asked if he’d do away with same-day registration, Denney said, “I am not advocating that at all.” You can read my full Sunday column here at

9th Circuit wants state response on Monday to emergency motion to dissolve stay

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has just issued an order calling for the state of Idaho to respond by noon on Monday to the same-sex marriage plaintiffs’ emergency motion to dissolve the stay, and clear the way for gay marriage in Idaho. That’s noon Pacific time; then, the plaintiffs, if they choose to, may file a reply by 5 p.m. Pacific. That still could leave time for the court to rule late Monday and allow Idaho counties to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples when they open on Tuesday morning after the three-day Columbus Day holiday weekend, or perhaps to rule on Tuesday morning.

You can read the court’s brief order here.

Plaintiffs file emergency motion to 9th Circuit to lift stay, allow marriages in Idaho

The plaintiffs in Idaho's same-sex marriage case have filed an emergency motion with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift the stay and directly authorize gay marriages to begin in Idaho; you can read it here.

In the motion, attorney Deborah Ferguson wrote, “While defendants cannot show that the  State of Idaho would suffer any harm in the absence of a stay, the challenged laws cause serious, continuing, and irreparable harm to plaintiffs and other same-sex couples—and to their children—each day they remain in effect.”

“Same-sex couples who wish to marry are subjected to irreparable harm every day they are forced to live without the security that marriage provides,” she wrote. “That harm is not speculative, but immediate and real.”

She also wrote that Idaho’s ban in gay marriage is unlikely to get review from the U.S. Supreme Court, which today lifted its stay on the 9th Circuit’s decision. “On Monday of this week, the Supreme Court denied seven petitions for writs of certiorari seeking review of judgments from three courts of appeals that together held that five States’ prohibitions on marriages by same-sex couples violate those couples’ Fourteenth Amendment rights,” Ferguson wrote. “There is no reason to believe that any further petition for further review by defendants, whether in this Court or the Supreme Court, will meet any different fate.”

Dems have money edge in 3 statewide races: Governor, schools chief, and Secretary of State

In three statewide races, Democratic candidates enjoy a significant fundraising advantages heading into the final weeks of the campaign, reports Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert, who has been tallying campaign finance reports filed for today’s deadline. Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff raised — and spent — more than $1.8 million on his bid to unseat GOP incumbent Butch Otter, Richert reports. However, the accountant, prominent businessman and Boise School Board member self-financed the bulk of his campaign. Meanwhile, Otter raised more than $600,000 during the summer, and heads into the campaign home stretch with more than a 10-to-1 advantage in cash on hand.

Through the summer, state superintendent’s candidate Jana Jones continued to pad her fundraising advantage over Republican Sherri Ybarra, as the candidates vie to succeed outgoing Republican Tom Luna. In another open race, this one to succeed longtime Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Democratic state Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise has built a sizable fundraising edge over state Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, a former House speaker. You can read Richert’s full report here.

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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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