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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Idaho Debates

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.

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.

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.

Labrador, Ringo outline starkly differing positions in debate

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador and his Democratic challenger, Shirley Ringo, outlined starkly differing positions on issues ranging from same-sex marriage to taxes and spending, as the two faced off in a debate on Idaho Public Television tonight. Labrador, a Republican who is seeking a third term in the district that represents North Idaho, said Idahoans voted in favor of banning same-sex marriage in 2006. “We have to look first at the Constitution. There’s nothing in the Constitution about gay marriage, there’s nothing in the Constitution about traditional marriage,” he said. “So you need to decide whether that’s something that courts should be deciding, or the people should be deciding.”

Ringo, a longtime state representative from Moscow and a retired math teacher, said, “We certainly can’t put ourselves in a situation where the vote of the people overrides the Constitution.” You can read my full story here at

Labrador, Ringo face off on statewide TV tonight

Idaho 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, who is seeking a third term, will face off with Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo tonight on Idaho Public Television as part of the “Idaho Debates.” The debate starts at 7 p.m. Labrador is an immigration lawyer, former two-term Idaho state lawmaker and tea party favorite; Ringo is a longtime Democratic state representative from Moscow and a retired math teacher. After it airs, the debate will be available to view online at Idaho Public TV. The Idaho Debates are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Treasurer’s debate reset for next Thursday

The canceled debate in the Idaho state treasurer's race, originally set for tonight as part of the “Idaho Debates” on Idaho Public Television, has been rescheduled for next Thursday at 8:30 p.m. State Treasurer Ron Crane asked for the change, saying he'd lost his voice and couldn't debate tonight. Democratic challenger Deborah Silver reacted with suspicion, saying the cancellation came as Crane was resisting her public records requests for various information from his office, including communications with the state Attorney General. However, she agreed to the new date next week.

The debate will air statewide at 8:30 p.m., as part of a series of debates co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Crane cancels tomorrow’s debate against Silver because he’s lost his voice; it’s being rescheduled

Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane is pulling out of tomorrow’s scheduled statewide debate on Idaho Public Television because he’s lost his voice, but is working to get it rescheduled for next week. “He’s caught the crud that everybody else has had, and yesterday he was a little froggy but today his voice is practically completely gone,” said Crane’s campaign spokesman, Ken Burgess. He said Crane remains “absolutely committed” to debating his Democratic challenger, Deborah Silver, in the “Idaho Debates,” which are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters and broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public TV.

Silver was skeptical. “I think he doesn’t want to answer some questions that we have out there right now,” she said. The first three alternative dates proposed conflict with major campaign events she has scheduled around the state next week, she said. “I’m ready to debate. I’m totally prepared to debate. So we’ll see how this works.”

The two also are scheduled to face off at Boise TV station KTVB on Monday; Burgess said Crane is hopeful he’ll be able to do that one. The treasurer’s debate in the “Idaho Debates” had been scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Debates, debates, debates…

The two candidates for Idaho Secretary of State, Republican Lawerence Denney and Democrat Holli Woodings, will face off in a live debate tonight 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 and broadcast statewide on Idaho PTV. The hour-long debate will start at 7 p.m.

Also tonight, the sole debate in Idaho’s race for the U.S. Senate this year will air on KTVB-TV in Boise at 9 p.m.; that debate features incumbent GOP Sen. Jim Risch and Democratic challenger Nels Mitchell. After it airs tonight on KTVB Channel 7, re-broadcasts are planned.

Thursday at noon, GOP Gov. Butch Otter will debate Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff at the Idaho Falls City Club; the City Club of Boise will offer a simulcast for its members in Boise at the Owyhee Plaza.

Then, Thursday night, the candidates for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat – incumbent GOP Rep. Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo – will debate on Idaho Public TV at 7 p.m. as part of the Idaho Debates. At 8:30, the two candidates for Idaho state treasurer, incumbent Ron Crane and Democratic challenger Deborah Silver, also will debate in the Idaho Debates, with the face-off airing statewide on Idaho Public TV.

Crane faces first debate of 16 years in office

Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane will participate in his first series of political debates since he was elected 16 years ago, reports AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi, as Crane faces Democratic challenger Deborah Silver in November. He was unopposed in the last election in 2010. Longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby told AP reporter Kimberlee Kruesi it's not unusual for incumbents to shy away from sharing the same stage as their opponents, but Crane is unusual for going nearly four terms without participating in either a local or televised debate. Crane's campaign says he didn't duck debates; he just lacked opponents, or lacked opponents who met debate criteria over the years.

Kruesi reports that the state treasurer's position has received more attention since a legislative audit was released in January finding that Crane's office conducted inappropriate money transfers that cost taxpayers millions of dollars beginning in 2008. Crane has repeatedly disputed the audit's findings, but Silver, a longtime CPA from Twin Falls, argues her opponent refuses to comply with all the auditor's recommendations. “I'm looking forward to the debates,” Silver said. “I'm very open to talking about this.”

Full slate of debates in Idaho races to ‘fill in the picture’ for voters

A full slate of political debates stretches before Idaho voters, who are mulling decisions on every statewide office in November; you can read my full story here at The “Idaho Debates,” a tradition in the state of more than three decades’ standing, will feature seven debates broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television, co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. In addition, other groups also are sponsoring candidate forums and debates – including a local debate in Coeur d’Alene in the governor’s race that’s free and open to the public.

“I’m just delighted to see there’s that much activity, and there are a lot of very interesting races, so I hope the public tunes in or follows these debates and forums closely,” said longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby, a professor emeritus at Boise State University. “There’s a lot at stake.”

Weatherby said debates are particularly important for voters who may be exposed to selective messages from candidates through advertising or other means. “It helps fill in the picture as to who these people really are, rather than hiding behind their campaign ads or the websites or brochures that are carefully prepared,” he said. In addition to putting candidates on the spot about their positions on issues and showing them head-to-head with their opponents, he said, debates show “how effectively they can respond to criticism.”

Nels Mitchell, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, decried GOP incumbent Jim Risch’s decision to participate in only one debate, turning down invitations from the Idaho Debates, the City Club of Boise and more. Click below for Mitchell’s full statement.

‘Idaho Debates’ announce fall line-up

The Idaho Debates, a tradition of more than three decades in Idaho, has announced its fall line-up of political debates in advance of the November general election, including debates in an array of the state’s top races. The debates, broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television, are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. Here’s the schedule:

Oct. 7, 7 p.m.: Idaho Secretary of State debate, featuring Republican Lawerence Denney and Democrat Holli Woodings

Oct. 9, 7 p.m.: 1st Congressional District debate, featuring GOP Rep. Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Shirley Ringo

Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.: Idaho state treasurer debate, featuring GOP Treasurer Ron Crane and Democratic challenger Deborah Silver

Oct. 21, 7 p.m.: Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction debate, featuring GOP candidate Sherri Ybarra and Democratic candidate Jana Jones

Oct. 26, 7 p.m.: 2nd Congressional District debate, featuring GOP Rep. Mike Simpson and Democratic challenger Richard Stallings

Oct. 30, 7 p.m.: Idaho governor debate, featuring GOP Gov. Butch Otter, Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, and Libertarian candidate John Bujak

Oct. 30, 8:30 p.m.: Idaho lieutenant governor debate, featuring GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Democratic challenger Bert Marley

A debate in the U.S. Senate race had been scheduled for Oct. 12, but was canceled after GOP Sen. Jim Risch declined to participate. Risch’s campaign manager, Melinda Smyser, said in a letter to Idaho Debates organizers, “It has been the senator’s custom to do one debate with his opponent,” and Risch already has agreed to debate Democratic challenger Nels Mitchell on Boise TV station KTVB. The station will provide the debate for re-broadcast by stations elsewhere in the state.

Full disclosure here: As president of the Idaho Press Club, I volunteer on the committee that helps plan and organize the Idaho Debates, which are moderated by Idaho Public Television and feature reporter panelists who are members of the Press Club. The debates are always lively and of interest, and we’re looking forward to them.

Otter announces he’ll take part in four debates

Gov. Butch Otter has announced that he’ll participate in four debates with his general election opponents, including the “Idaho Debates” on Oct. 30 to be broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club. Otter also will participate in a KTVB NewsChannel 7 debate on Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. in Boise; a City Club of Idaho Falls debate at noon on Oct. 9 in Idaho Falls, to be rebroadcast later on KISU; and a Coeur Group debate Oct 3 in Coeur d’Alene, for which the time and location have not yet been announced.

“I look forward to participating in the debate process and discussing my plans to keep moving Idaho forward,” Otter said in his announcement. “I know that voters have questions, and I look forward to answering those.”

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 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

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

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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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