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Posts tagged: Idaho Debates

A ‘Moment of Zen’ for election day…

Oh, my. A snippet from last week’s Idaho gubernatorial debate made the “Moment of Zen” that closes out episodes of Jon Stewart’s Daily Show; it aired last night. I guess that’s our moment of Zen for Election Day today. You can watch here.

Of cowboys, curmudgeons, and national eyes on Idaho…

This Idaho Public TV photo, by Jim Hadley, shows my facial expression as one of the three reporters on the panel for this week’s Idaho gubernatorial debate. The antics of perennial candidates Harley Brown and Walter Bayes in the debate that otherwise was between two-term Gov. Butch Otter and GOP challenger and Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher attracted national attention and mirth.

I talked briefly with NBC News political director Chuck Todd on his “Daily Rundown” story this morning about Idaho politics as Tuesday’s primary election approaches, but didn’t get a chance to correct him on an incorrect assumption he’d made earlier in the program: That when Brown listed Idaho’s GOP candidates for governor during the debate as “a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy,” the incumbent governor must have been the “normal guy” in the list.

Actually, in Brown’s list, Otter was the “cowboy.” As we all know in Idaho, we have a rodeo-loving, calf-roping, horseback-riding cowboy governor. Fulcher was the “normal guy.” Todd’s show is online here.

Meanwhile, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, my fellow panelist on the debate, reports today that a two-minute mashup of the debate that went viral on social media yesterday was put together by an editor at KTVB-TV, whose bosses asked him to take it down yesterday afternoon due to concerns over copyright issues. Idaho Public TV officials are meeting today to discuss copyright issues, but haven't raised any concerns. Popkey also provides a link to an interview Slate.com did with debate host Melissa Davlin, in which interviewer Mike Pesca praised Davlin as “heroic” for her handling of the debate.

Fulcher promises to spare state ‘public humiliation’ like last night’s gubernatorial debate

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, is decrying last night’s gubernatorial debate, saying incumbent Gov. Butch Otter’s insistence on including two marginal candidates created a “circus atmosphere.” “As a result, the ‘debate’ turned from a serious discussion regarding the position for Idaho’s chief executive, to a mockery of the Republican Party and of Idaho,” Fulcher said. “Clearly, the governor wanted to take time away from me and minimize exposure to his failed record as governor.”

Fulcher said, “When I am governor, I will not subject my party or my state to this type of public humiliation.” You can read his full statement here.

Idaho Debates supercut: Gotta see it

It was inevitable: You can now watch on YouTube a two-minute “supercut” of last night's hour-long GOP gubernatorial debate on the “Idaho Debates,” featuring the wildest comments from candidates Harley Brown and Walt Bayes, along with glimpses of the facial expressions of Gov. Butch Otter, Sen. Russ Fulcher, moderator Melissa Davlin and those of us on the reporter panel; see it here. It'll make you laugh out loud. (UPDATE: If you haven't seen this yet, I'm afraid it's too late; the owner took the video down this afternoon.)

Meanwhile, Mother Jones magazine has posted a report here on the Idaho debate, including a detailed description of Brown and the observation that Bayes “has a beard that extends halfway down his ribcage and resembles a 19th-century gold prospector.” Idaho Statesman columnist (and my fellow panelist on the debate) Dan Popkey has a commentary here, the L.A. Times has its take here, and the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes has his take here, about which he tweeted, “You think Portland's weird?”

Quite the debate for governor…

That was quite the debate on Idaho Public TV tonight, with some spirited back-and-forth between Gov. Butch Otter and primary challenger Russ Fulcher on the issues, and wacky weirdness from the two other candidates, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.

Here are excerpts from each of their closing comments:

OTTER: “I’ve experienced a lot as your governor, and I’m putting all that I’ve experienced to work every day to improve on how I do my job of serving you. … I’m honored to have been through the refining fire with you, and I’m excited about continuing to face the challenges of today and tomorrow.”

FULCHER: “I ask you to ask yourself: Are you better off today than you were eight years ago? If you’re like most of us, the answer is no. It’s time to shake up the establishment.”

BROWN: “You have your choice, folks: A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or (looking over toward Fulcher) a normal guy. Take your pick. … We’re leaving it up to you.”

BAYES: “Butch, I’d like to thank you for making it possible for me to be here tonight. He kinda insisted that me and this un-normal person (gesturing to Brown) could be here tonight.”

Click below for a report on the debate from the Associated Press. Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a report here; you can watch the debate online here. KTVB-TV's Jamie Grey reports here on how each candidate responded to the same-sex marriage ruling.

Simpson, Smith spar in TV debate

Congressman Mike Simpson and his GOP challenger Bryan Smith had a lively debate on Idaho Public TV tonight, as part of the “Idaho Debates,” sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. “Our country has seriously gotten off on the wrong track,” declared Smith, a lawyer from Idaho Falls and a political newcomer who’s backed by the Club for Growth. “Sadly, career politicians in Washington like Congressman Simpson have become part of the problem. … I am a true conservative who is not afraid to stand up for us.”

Simpson said the people backing Smith are opposed to funding for the Idaho National Laboratory, one of the biggest employers in eastern Idaho. “They’re opposed to the ag bill, they’re opposed to everything,” he said. Simpson said it didn’t work to shut down the government in an effort to force the repeal of Obamacare. “We didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish,” he said. “Shutting down the government doesn’t work. What you’ve got to do is elect Republicans to the Senate so that we have somebody to work with, so that we can actually get this budget balanced again and get it on a path toward balance.”

Simpson said, “We might not like it but there are Democrats actually in Congress, and they control the Senate and they control the White House. If you’re going to get anything done, it’s going to be done by working together both within your party and across party lines.” Failing that, he said, “You’ll just be howling at the moon.”

Smith said, “Washington doesn’t have a tax problem, they have a spending problem. … We need to focus on cutting the budget,” saying he’d first go after “redundant spending” and that he’d cut the Department of Education, saying, “The word education does not appear in the Constitution.” You can watch the full debate online here.

Little, Chmelik see differing roles for lieutenant governor

In the “Idaho Debates” tonight on Idaho Public TV, Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik outlined a very different role for Idaho’s lieutenant governor that he said he wants to play if he succeeds in defeating GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the May 20 primary election.

“I would like to use the position of lieutenant governor the same way I’ve used the county commissioner position,” he said – to travel around the state and nation urging support for transfer of federal public lands to states. “I believe you have a lot more pull as lieutenant governor than you do as a county commissioner,” Chmelik declared in the live debate, which was broadcast statewide.

Little, a rancher and four-term state senator who’s been the state’s lieutenant governor since 2009, said if re-elected, he’ll continue to focus on economic development. “We absolutely have to build the economy,” he said. “It’s being the facilitator, whether it’s with government or with business to foster those jobs and foster that growth, because we need that.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Rivals for Idaho Supreme Court face off in debate televised statewide

The very definition of fairness was hotly debated by two rivals for the Idaho Supreme Court tonight, as Justice Joel Horton and challenger Breck Seiniger faced off in a televised debate. Horton called Seiniger “a representative of special interests,” prompting Seiniger to retort, “I guess the special interests we’re talking about are the average, ordinary citizens like you people watching out there, who get hurt, who have a problem with the government, who have a property dispute – that’s who I represent.”

The taped debate, part of the “Idaho Debates” sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters, was broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television tonight. Idaho’s primary election is May 20. In addition to primary races for partisan offices, the election includes the final decision in the nonpartisan Supreme Court race. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Why gov’s debate will have 30-second delay

Idaho Public Television political debates generally air live, but the upcoming governor’s debate on May 14 will have a 30-second delay. The reason: One of the four candidates, Harley Brown, is prone to profanity, and has been using language at candidate appearances that could get the public TV station fined by the FCC, regardless of who makes the on-air comment.

Brown is a perennial candidate who claims that he runs for office because God has called him to be the president of the United States; he’s run for everything from city council to Congress. This year, he’s added a “warning” on his campaign website saying, “The content of this website and especially the content of the page titled “Harleyism”, may be construed by those of a gentle nature, a sensitive disposition or the young, to be offensive, shocking or even obscene.” He’s also posted a pledge saying he “Declares WAR on political correctness!”

Brown is one of four candidates on the GOP primary ballot, along with anti-abortion advocate Walter Bayes, incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, and Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian.

State controller, treasurer candidates face off in televised debates

Candidates in contested primary races for state controller and state treasurer debated Friday night on statewide TV; you can watch here. In the controller’s race, GOP incumbent Brandon Woolf faces a challenge from log home company owner Todd Hatfield. In the treasurer’s race, two Democrats, Deborah Silver, a CPA, and W. Lane Startin, a freelance writer and editor, are facing off in the primary; the victor will take on GOP incumbent Ron Crane in November. The Idaho Debates, co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho, continue this Thursday with the GOP candidates for state Superintendent of Schools.

Wasden, Troupis face off in pointed debate on statewide TV

Challenger C.T. “Chris” Troupis came out swinging against Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden tonight as the two met in a televised debate, accusing the third-term official of being “weak” and having “lost his way.” “Perhaps decades ago, he had the right vision, but his weak actions show that he’s been caputured by the immense power of office,” Troupis declared. “Time and again he’s chosen to side with the government rather than the people.”

Wasden, like Troupis a Republican, countered, “It’s important to distinguish between rhetoric and reality. You need to have an Attorney General who will tell you what you need to know, rather than what you want to hear. The one who will tell you the whole story, not just the part that can be manipulated to one’s political advantage.”

Troupis pressed for repeal of Obamacare, taking over federal lands within Idaho, and limiting all of Idaho’s state endowment land investments to timber land. But Wasden said none of those are within the legal or constitutional power of Idaho’s Attorney General.

“This is in fact a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Wasden said. “There are two factions, and to not recognize that is to not understand what is really going on here. There are some mainstream, rational folks, and there are some folks that are on the edge, and that’s just how it is. And so I do hope that the rational thought comes through. … That is the context in which this election is occurring.” Troupis countered, “I think I’m right in the mainstream.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Tonight’s debate was the first in a series of nine “Idaho Debates” leading up to the May 20 primary election; on Friday night, candidates for state controller will face off at 8 p.m., and for state treasurer at 8:30. The Idaho Debates are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Idaho Debates set in nine primary races

The Idaho Debates will feature a series of nine debates in Idaho races in advance of the May 20 primary election, the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters of Idaho and Idaho Public Television announced today. The Idaho Debates have featured face-offs between Idaho election candidates for more than 30 years; this year’s primary debates, broadcast statewide, continue that tradition.

Here are the debate dates and times:

GOP GOVERNOR’s RACE:  May 14, 8 p.m. Gov. Butch Otter is seeking a third term; in the Republican primary, he faces opponents including Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.

SECRETARY OF STATE, GOP: May 13, 7 p.m. Four candidates are facing off in the Republican primary for Secretary of State; the victor will face Democratic Rep. Holli Woodings in November.  

2nd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, GOP: May 11, 7 p.m. This GOP primary race features longtime Congressman Mike Simpson and challenger Bryan Smith.

IDAHO SUPREME COURT: May 9, 8 p.m. Justice Joel Horton faces a challenge from Boise attorney Breck Seiniger; the primary election is the final contest in this non-partisan race.

LT. GOVERNOR, GOP: May 9, 8:30 p.m. Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little will debate challenger Jim Chmelik.

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, GOP: May 8, 8 p.m. Candidates vying in the four-way GOP race for state superintendent of schools will face off; the winner of that primary will face Democrat Jana Jones in the November general election.

STATE CONTROLLER, GOP: May 2, 8 p.m. State Controller Brandon Woolf debates GOP challenger Todd Hatfield.

STATE TREASURER, DEMOCRATS: May 2, 8:30 p.m. Two Democratic candidates for state treasurer, Deborah Silver of Twin Falls and W. Lane Startin of Boise, will face off; the victor in that primary race will face incumbent GOP Treasurer Ron Crane in November.   

ATTORNEY GENERAL, GOP: May 1, 8 p.m. Third-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden faces Boise attorney C.T. “Chris” Troupis in the GOP primary contest.

That’s nine debates on seven days, all in the month of May, all broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television. As always, the Idaho Press Club will provide the Idaho reporters who will serve as panelists questioning the candidates; the League of Women Voters will handle time-keeping duties; and Idaho Public TV will provide the moderators and produce and broadcast the debates.

Simpson, LeFavour face off in debate

2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson and his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Nicole LeFavour, debated on live TV last night in the “Idaho Debates.” You can watch the full debate online here. The two clashed over women's issues, from pay inequity to lawmakers' comments about rape. “For many women it’s been a rough year to watch Congress,” LeFavour told Simpson, “and I’m sorry you have participated in that.” He responded, “I’m sorry you feel that way, because it’s absolutely not true.” Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker has a full report on the debate here.

The two also debated deficit reduction, energy funding and the Idaho National Laboratory, jobs, forest fire management and more. Simpson is a seventh-term congressman and former Idaho House speaker who chairs a key House appropriations subcommittee. LeFavour is an outspoken fourth-term state lawmaker who's served two terms in the Idaho House and two in the Senate; click below for a profile of the race by AP reporter John Miller.
  

Labrador: Raise Social Security retirement age to 70

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on last night's lively debate between Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador and his Democratic challenger, Jimmy Farris. During the face-off, Labrador backed raising the Social Security retirement age to 70, cutting a third of the staff at the Pentagon and banning all abortions other than those to save the life of the mother. Farris differed sharply on the retirement age and abortion, but found common ground with Labrador on trimming military spending. “I think there are a number of places that we would agree and admit that we can find savings,” Farris said. “If Pentagon staff is one of them, I'd certainly like to look at it.”

Labrador said people are living much longer now than they were when Social Security and Medicare were started, and people like himself, at age 44, have to recognize “that I'm going to have a different program than exists today.” Farris disagreed, saying a better way to ensure the solvency of Social Security would be to raise the cap on earnings subject to the Social Security tax.

On abortion, Labrador said he opposes making exceptions for victims of rape or incest. “I think life begins at conception, so I believe it's important that we protect life,” he said. Farris said, “This is an issue where we strongly disagree. I do support a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. … I don't think it's the government's place to be making decisions for women about their health care.” You can watch the full debate online at idahoptv.org.
  

Otter faces rivals in final debate

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter defended his cuts to education and his track record as governor Thursday night, as he met four rivals in the final debate before Tuesday’s election. “The choice had to be made, because there’s only two ways that you can balance the budget, you either cut the government or you increase the tax load for the citizenry,” Otter declared. “We chose the former.” His Democratic challenger, Keith Allred, strongly disagreed, and peppered Otter with criticisms; also debating were independents Jana Kemp and “Pro-Life” and Libertarian Ted Dunlap. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

‘If wolves were eating children…’

The candidates for governor have been clashing over water quality monitoring, and now about wolves. “Enough is enough,” Otter declared, defending his decision to end state wolf management. Allred said Otter has been talking for 30 years about pushing back the federal government, but, “What has he ever done that actually accomplished that? … He’s got one tool in his toolkit, and that’s to file federal lawsuits. … We need to be taking destiny into our own hands and using effective tools for beating back federal control, and we need to do that by being able to monitor our own wolf population” to make the case for delisting.

Ted Dunlap said the wolves that were reintroduced into Idaho are “monsters.” Pro-Life said, “When you’re pro-life, you don’t like wolves. … I’m pretty much a vegetarian.” He added, “I think the animals that are in Idaho belong to Idaho. … I don’t think the federal government should have anything to do with that.”

Otter said the state’s spent only $6,000 on its lawsuit over federal health care reform, $1,000 on its brief in the Arizona immigration lawsuit, $1,000 on slickspot peppergrass litigation and $1,000 on the appeal of the federal ruling re-listing wolves. Pro-Life said, “Well if wolves were eating children, I would do something.”

Otter: ‘We’ve had to make some tough decisions’

Gov. Otter was asked how he squares his promise to make Idaho’s government more efficient and customer-focused with the closing of local Health & Welfare offices, the fumbling of paperwork that cost Idaho farmers millions in disaster aid, and other flubs. Otter responded that when he took office, “We had about a $130 million surplus in our budget, we had 2.7 percent unemployment. This last two years things have gotten a little tough and we’ve had to make some tough decisions.” On the farm disaster paperwork, he said, “You’re absolutely right. … We lost that paperwork for a week and that was the last week that we could actually apply for that. So mea culpa, that was our fault. But the $10 million is a stretch. I would agree that there was some loss, no question about it. … We made three different attempts with Vilsack asking for a federal waiver … then I got the delegation involved, they asked for some consideration and a waiver, and we got neither.”

Jana Kemp said, “The key is that in the governor’s office, all communication must be managed effectively. Without that, things fall through the cracks. … The pattern must come to an end. If you want to keep living in the past and mistakes that have been made, you know how to vote.”

Keith Allred said, “Butch Otter wants to blame all of his administration’s problems on the economy and other external circumstances. The one thing that tells you is don’t expect any better performance in the next four years - he thinks the performance of his administration has been fine.” Allred said it “wasn’t the economy” that caused the state’s Health & Welfare billing snafu that left providers unpaid for months, that threatened to kick hundreds of dentists off the state’s Medicaid contract, or made an error with the disaster aid. “We need a governor who can do his homework and get his facts right,” Allred said.

Things getting lively at debate…

Asked what evidence there is that the “doom and gloom forecasts” used to set the state budget were fiscally irresponsible, Keith Allred said, “The last three months of revenue. … We are $14 million ahead of the projections that were made in August.” Jana Kemp put in, “When we were in the Legislature we talked often about how you can’t bet on money that hasn’t come in.” At that, Otter yelled, “Yeah!” and started clapping. “No applause,” cautioned moderator Thanh Tan, to which Otter responded, “You told the audience, not us.”

Allred said, “You can’t spend money that you don’t take in. … Butch Otter said … if money comes in, then at that point we could go ahead and spend it.” Now, he said, “The money is sitting there,” despite cuts in education that have reduced instruction time. “What are you doing to do about it?” he asked Otter. At that point, Pro-Life commented, “I think this is pretty boring and people are probably turning onto the ballgame.”

Otter said, “I’d like to respond to that.” He said Idaho’s exceeding revised projections, but not his budget. Allred said the state’s now exceeding both.

‘What Otter is offering for his economic vision’

Asked about the economy, Gov. Butch Otter noted that a recent USA Today story said Idaho is one of the states leading the nation’s crawl out of the recession, along with energy states, and touted his “Project 60” to increase the state’s gross domestic product. Jana Kemp said as a small business owner, she never received anything from the state about Project 60 until recently. “This is a great place to live - it needs to be a great place to work,” she said.

Keith Allred said the USA Today story paired Idaho with energy states with large fossil-fuel reserves. “What is it about Idaho?” he asked, that put it in that group. “The lion’s share of personal income growth in Idaho was from unemployment, Medicaid, federal welfare and entitlement money. That’s what Butch Otter is offering you for his economic vision - more dependence on the federal government. … I’ve got a better idea.” Allred called for lowering Idaho’s relatively high state personal and corporate income tax rates. “We cannot get this economy going without taking that brake off of it,” he said.

When Pro-Life said government shouldn’t be involved in the economy, Otter responded, “We’re not in the business of picking winners and losers. … In that aspect, you’re absolutely right,” to which Pro-Life responded, “Yeah, I knew that.”

Candidates for guv differ on tapping endowment reserves for schools

Asked whether they’d again dip into the state endowment’s earnings reserve fund to avoid cuts to schools next year, the candidates for governor had varying answers. Otter said it “depends upon the shortfall,” and it’s “going to be hard” to tap that fund again. Kemp said, “The answer is no. … We need to find bigger, broader systemwide solutions.” She advocated phasing out the federal No Child Left Behind program. Allred said he’d tap the fund. “I supported that, I thought it was a good idea,” he said. “It is one of a number of options that we’ll need to keep education whole in the coming year.”

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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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