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Simpson, Stallings clash in final round of the ‘Idaho Debates’

The final round of the “Idaho Debates” last night featured 2nd District GOP Congressman Mike Simpson debating Democratic challenger Richard Stallings, a former 2nd District congressman. The two clashed repeatedly on everything from wilderness to immigration reform to taxes. Stallings said, “This is the worst Congress ever,” while Simpson countered, “Actually, this has been a Congress that has tried to get things done, but we’re divided. The Republicans control the House, the Democrats control the Senate. … The Senate hasn’t actually been doing anything. The House has continued to do our work.”

Stallings told Simpson, “I think it’s great you have Senate to blame.” He called it “criminal” that the Congress hasn’t passed immigration reform or raised the minimum wage. You can watch the full debate online here at Idaho Public Television.

That’s also the place to see all seven of the “Idaho Debates” held in advance of tomorrow’s general election, in races ranging from governor to state treasurer to state superintendent of schools. The debates were co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho and broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television. If you’re trying to decide how to vote in these races, and want a chance to see the candidates face off directly, it’s must-see TV.

Watch the full governor’s debate…

The full, 90-minute debate between Idaho GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff and Libertarian challenger John Bujak can be viewed online here. It was a lively and often heated debate that saw the candidates clash on an array of issues as Tuesday's election approaches. The debate, which was broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television, is part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. It was the final debate in the race before the election.

Idaho guv debate most heated yet

Idaho's final gubernatorial debate showcased the most heated exchanges yet between the candidates seeking the seat, the AP reports. GOP Gov. Butch Otter faced off against Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff and Libertarian candidate John Bujak. The three agreed on little, writes AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi, and often interrupted the moderator and debate panel to respond to zingers thrown out by their opponents, while discussing education, the economy and same-sex marriage. Click below for the AP's full report.

Also, the Twin Falls Times-News has a full report here on the debate, headlined, “Otter on defensive on CCA in last debate.” Reporter Nathan Brown writes that both Balukoff and Bujak slammed Otter's handling of the private prison matter, including a $1 million settlement with Corrections Corp. of America releasing the company from civil liability for understaffing the state's largest prison and overbilling the state, and his handling of the state's current troubled contract for the Idaho Education Network, a broadband network linking the state's high schools. Otter said he doesn't know if the CCA settlement was fair. “I'll know when the FBI is done investigating,” he said.

A night of lively political debates in Idaho…

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on tonight’s lieutenant governor debate, the only debate in the race between GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Democratic challenger Bert Marley. In the polite but pointed televised debate, Little and Marley outlined sharply differing views of how Idaho’s faring as it works to recover from a big economic downturn.

The lieutenant governor debate, which ran 30 minutes, followed a heated debate in the governor’s race, in which GOP incumbent Butch Otter, Libertarian John Bujak and Democrat A.J. Balukoff clashed on everything from Idaho’s private prison debacle to education to jobs. Among the interesting moments: Otter referred at one point to his opponents by a combined name: “Balujak.” After Bujak was asked about his legal woes in Canyon County – which resulted in multiple acquittals – he said, “I’m surprised that I get the questions about scandal, with Gov. Otter standing next to me.” Balukoff called for scrapping the troubled contract for the Idaho Education Network: “Undo that contract, rebid it,” he said.

Otter said Idaho’s never been able to meet its constitutional mandate to adequately fund schools because of the state’s rural nature, and only now with initiatives like the IEN is it beginning to bring more uniformity to education. Balukoff and Bujak both disagreed; Balukoff said Idaho did a pretty good job funding school operations before the 2006 law that shifted funding from property taxes to the sales tax.

Otter said he’d sign a bill to add the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act, if lawmakers send it to his desk, but said he’s “not ready to surrender” on same-sex marriage. Bujak said, “At this point the ship has sailed. … You’re just throwing good money after bad.”  Balukoff asked, “Friends, is our state better off under Gov. Otter? The answer is no.”

Meanwhile, the two candidates for state superintendent of schools, Republican Sherri Ybarra and Democrat Jana Jones, met for their final debate – this one organized and run by high school students in Idaho Falls. Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin has a full report here.

 

Candidates for governor face off in final debate tonight

The final debate in Idaho’s governor’s race is tonight at 7 p.m. on Idaho Public Television. It’s part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. Tonight’s debate will run for 90 minutes and feature three candidates: GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who is seeking a third term; Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff; and Libertarian challenger John Bujak.

After the governor’s debate, the candidates for Idaho lieutenant governor, incumbent Republican Brad Little and Democratic challenger Bert Marley, will face off in a 30-minute debate at 8:30 p.m.

The Idaho Debates conclude on Sunday with the final matchup, between 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson and Democratic challenger – and former 2nd District congressman – Richard Stallings. That debate will air at 7 p.m.

After they’re broadcast, the Idaho Debates are available for viewing online here. That includes all seven debates – in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, 1st and 2nd District congressional races, state treasurer, Secretary of State, and state superintendent of schools. An eighth debate had been scheduled in the U.S. Senate race between GOP Sen. Jim Risch and Democratic challenger Nels Mitchell, but Risch declined to participate. Risch did agree to a single debate against Mitchell on Boise TV state KTVB; that debate can be seen online here.

More ‘Idaho Debates’ coming up…

The candidates for state superintendent of schools, Democrat Jana Jones and Republican Sherri Ybarra, will face off tomorrow night at 7 as part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho and broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television. The “Idaho Debates” then continue with the 2nd Congressional District debate, between GOP Congressman Mike Simpson and Democratic challenger - and former 2nd District congressman - Richard Stallings, on Sunday at 7 p.m.; the lieutenant governor debate between incumbent Brad Little and Democratic challenger Bert Marley at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 30; and the big one – the governor’s debate – at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30. That debate will feature GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, and Libertarian challenger John Bujak.

After tonight’s rousing debate between schools chief hopefuls, they’ll face off again on Tuesday…

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on tonight's debate between the two rivals to be Idaho's next state schools chief, Republican Sherri Ybarra and Democrat Jana Jones. The two will face off again on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Idaho Public Television as part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Votes of Idaho and broadcast statewide.

2nd District debate got quite heated; up next: Superintendent of Public Instruction

Wow. During the just-concluded televised debate, former Congressman Richard Stallings said “load of crap” while describing the push to have the state take over public lands. He also said “stupid” – lots of times. Current Congressman Mike Simpson decried his opponent’s language as “absurd” and “offensive,” particularly after Stallings said Republicans don’t like poor people. But Simpson, clearly riled, also said “hell.” It’ll be interesting to watch these two face off again on Idaho Public TV on Oct. 26.

Debates, debates, debates…

There are more debates on tap: Tonight, 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson debates Democratic challenger Richard Stallings on Boise TV station KTVB at 7 p.m.; the debate will air live from Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa. Immediately after that, at 8 p.m., the two candidates for state schools superintendent, Republican Sherri Ybarra and Democrat Jana Jones, will face off in the same location and on the same channel.

Tomorrow night at 8:30, the “Idaho Debates” will feature Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane debating his Democratic challenger, Deborah Silver, on Idaho Public Televison; that debate is part of a series co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Candidates clash in congressional debate…

A combative Rep. Raul Labrador has interjected repeatedly in tonight’s KTVB debate to give his view of Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo’s positions. He said she supports a single-payer system for health care, like those in Canada or Europe. She said she doesn’t. He said it was on her website; a check of her “Health Care and Retirement Security” issues page shows mention of a “public insurance option” but not a single-payer system.

Labrador interjected again after Ringo was quizzed on what she’d cut and whether she’d raise taxes to reduce the national debt – she said she might support some increased taxes on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans, but would prefer a combination of measures including closing tax loopholes.

“Her answer was yes she will raise taxes, and no there’s nothing she would want to cut,” Labrador said. “She doesn’t think that spending in Washington, D.C. is a problem. … She thinks that the way to grow the economy is actually to spend more money.”

Ringo responded, “I keep having my answers defined by the congressman here. And I did not say that I would not make any cuts. There may be some that are appropriate. But I wouldn’t make cuts just indiscriminately no matter where or who it would hurt.”

On immigration reform:

Labrador said the American people are clamoring for piece-by-piece immigration reform that focuses first on border security, rather than the comprehensive, bipartisan bill that passed the Senate. “If we pass the Senate bill today, what we will have is an amnesty today. … That was exactly what was wrong when Reagan passed his amnesty, is that they promised enforcement later, and we never got the enforcement,” he said.

Ringo responded, “The bill that the Senate brought forward did have a path to citizenship, which shouldn’t be considered amnesty.” She said she’s visited with many in Idaho’s Latino community who support the Senate bill.

On war against the Islamic State, or ISIL:

“I think we can only declare war on nations, on groups, but not on an ideology,” Labrador said. “If ISIL is a threat to the United States, then we need to declare war on them.” And if so, he said, we should go in with “full force.”

Ringo said she’d oppose “boots on the ground.” “If ISIL gets more purchase in Iraq or anyplace else I think we need to make sure we have all the intelligence we need, and that we do give those folks the support that they need, but I would not send people, no,” she said. “These things, eventually they become our war. And too often … once we leave the whole situation disintegrates.”

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.

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.

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.

Four candidates for governor to debate Friday in Coeur d’Alene

Four candidates for governor have confirmed that they’ll debate this Friday in Coeur d’Alene – GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, Libertarian candidate John Bujak and independent candidate “Pro-Life.” Jimmy McAndrew of the Coeur Group, which is organizing the noon Friday debate at the Coeur d’Alene Library’s downstairs community room, said the group invited all the candidates on the ballot; all but two, independent Jill Humble and Constitution Party candidate Steve Pankey, accepted.

“So we’ve got four,” he said. “Humble declined, I just don’t think she could make it work. We never heard back from Pankey.”

The community room at the library – the same place where the Coeur d’Alene City Council meets – has seating for 160 people to watch the debate, which also will air live on CDA-TV Channel 19, the local cable channel in Coeur d’Alene that airs City Council meetings. After the debate, re-runs are planned and the program will be posted to the channel’s website. “There’s a lot of hours going into prep for this. Our goal is to come up with questions that don’t elicit canned responses,” McAndrew said. He added, “Hopefully, people will come out of there surprised at something or learn something.”

The debate will start at noon, and run for between an hour and 90 minutes. “The library opens at 10, so people are free to stake out their seats by 10 a.m. that morning,” McAndrew said. Organizers are hoping for a big turnout. “We’d love to have it packed,” he said. “It sounds like there’s a fair amount of interest, so I would tell people there’s no harm in getting there a little bit early.”

This will be the first debate in the governor’s race to include Otter; Balukoff and Bujak debated last week in Twin Falls, but Otter didn’t attend.

Balukoff announces debate schedule

A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, today released the schedule of the debates he’s agreed to participate in over the next month – the same four to which GOP Gov. Butch Otter earlier committed, plus one more in Twin Falls. “I look forward to these debates with Gov. Otter and the opportunity to lay out my vision for a better Idaho,” Balukoff said in a statement. “While he may try to distract the debates away from his eight year record, I intend to focus on the issues critical to moving our state forward: better schools, creating good-paying jobs, and restoring trust and accountability to state government.”

Otter already had announced he’ll debate Oct. 3 in Coeur d’Alene, in a face-off at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library sponsored by the Coeur Group; Oct. 9 in Idaho Falls at the Idaho Falls City Club debate; Oct. 14 at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa in a debate sponsored by KTVB-TV; and Oct. 30 in the “Idaho Debates,” which will be broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television and are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Balukoff said he’ll also participate in a debate tomorrow from 7-8 p.m. at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls, sponsored by the Times-News newspaper. Otter was invited to that debate, but declined the invitation. The newspaper announced that its debate will feature Balukoff and Libertarian candidate for governor John Bujak. The Times-News also is hosting a debate tonight between the two candidates for state superintendent of schools, Democrat Jana Jones and Republican Sherri Ybarra.

City Club forum draws some distinctions between state schools chief rivals

All four candidates for state superintendent of schools faced off at a City Club of Boise debate today; Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin has a full report here. The candidates answered questions submitted by an audience of 200 at the hour-long forum that drew some distinctions: Melba schools Superintendent Andy Grover was the only one of the four to say he backed the failed Propositions 1, 2 and 3 school reform measures; teacher John Eynon of Cottonwood was sharply critical of the governor’s school improvement task force recommendations, which the other candidates backed.

Idaho EdNews’ Kevin Richert also reports that Eynon spoke out against compulsory kindergarten and said he didn’t want 3- to 5-year-olds exposed to public schools. “We are not a socialist state, and our children are not wards of that state,” Eynon said; read Richert’s piece here.

The four are scheduled to debate on statewide television Thursday night as part of the “Idaho Debates.” That debate, co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho, will be broadcast on Idaho Public Television at 8 p.m.

Gov. Otter’s GOP challengers blast him at debate that he skipped

Two of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s primary election challengers lashed out at him during a statewide debate Tuesday night, while Otter declined to participate in the matchup that aired live statewide on Idaho Public Television. “I’d like to ask him why he thinks he’s above having his ideas challenged by the public,” said GOP challenger Rex Rammell, a veterinarian from Rexburg. “Isn’t it the responsibility of the top elected official of the state of Idaho to let the people know what your ideas are? … Why didn’t you show up for this?”

Sharon Ullman, a Republican Ada County commissioner, said she wished she could’ve asked Otter if he’ll really serve a full four-year term if he’s re-elected. “There’s a strong rumor going around that he plans to … step down and let the lieutenant governor become governor,” she declared. Rammell and Ullman bashed Otter for proposing a gas tax increase in 2009; for failing to attract more jobs to the state; for proposing increasing counties’ costs for indigent health care; and for not being hostile enough to the federal government; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and click below for some tidbits from the debate that didn’t make it into my story.

The big debate is tonight…

Tonight at 8 (7 Pacific time), GOP congressional candidates Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward will face off in an hour-long debate held before a live audience, and broadcast live on Idaho Public Television. The public is invited; there are 130 seats available for the public in the Capitol Auditorium on a first-come, first-served basis, and the doors open at 7 p.m. and close 15 minutes before the live broadcast begins. No signs, shouts, applause or other disruptions are permitted during the debate. The “Idaho Debates” are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the Idaho League of Women Voters along with an array of media partners; you can watch the 1st Congressional District debate live tonight on IPTV, or view it online here.

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About this blog

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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