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Posts tagged: Ron Mendive

North Idaho Republicans splinter as legislative races loom

Republicans in North Idaho have been splintering into increasingly bitterly divided factions, and some say it’s reached the point of dysfunction – and the cracks have to close if the aim is to get anything done, like bring in more jobs or improve schools. “We need everybody to get together,” said Patrick Whalen, who is running against state Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, in the May 20 GOP primary. “I don’t think we can continually split the party and succeed.” Now, an influential local group that had great success in the last election has endorsed challengers to five GOP incumbents in the primary, including Whalen over Nonini, and all sides are readying for battle. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

House leader says Mendive comment poor choice, ACLU commends him for attending event

House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude, R-Meridian, said freshman Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, made a poor comparison when he linked prostitution to abortion, saying both are “a woman’s choice.” Said Vander Woude, “Rarely when a woman becomes a prostitute, is it because of a choice. The example, in my opinion, was a very poor choice.”

This incident marks the second time inside of a year in which an Idaho lawmaker has gained attention from comments he's made about abortion. Sen. Chuck Winder of Boise, the Senate assistant majority leader, made comments during the 2012 session in debate over a bill to require a woman to get an ultrasound before an abortion. “I would hope that when a woman goes into a physician with a rape issue, that that physician will indeed ask her about perhaps her marriage, was this pregnancy caused by normal relations in a marriage, or was it truly caused by a rape,” Winder told the Senate last March.

Winder later said he was misunderstood and never meant to cast doubt on the truthfulness of a woman's claim of rape.

Meanwhile, ACLU Executive Director Monica Hopkins said she was glad Mendive was among 15 or 20 state lawmakers who attended the ACLU’s breakfast event Wednesday morning where he made the comment; he was the first one there. The presentation covered an overview of the group, and then focused mostly on criminal justice reform. “The interesting thing about the ACLU is you may not agree with us on one issue, but a lot of times we can find common ground on other issues,” she said. “I actually commend him for coming to the breakfast and learning a little more about us.” You can read our full story here at spokesman.com.

Rep. Mendive: ‘I’ll stand up for right’

Freshman Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, was surprised to learn that there’s a news story out about a question he asked this morning regarding abortion and prostitution – and that it’s going viral. He attended an ACLU breakfast presentation in the Capitol this morning, and when  it was opened up for questions and answers at the end, Mendive said his question was prompted by the group placing women’s reproductive rights among its high priorities. So he asked whether the ACLU supports prostitution along with abortion, because it’s also “a woman’s choice.” The Associated Press reported that there were “audible gasps” in the room at his question, and ACLU Executive Director Monica Hopkins responded that abortion rights are constitutionally protected, while prostitution is illegal; and that prostitution is not always a choice, as in human trafficking cases.

“Was there a reporter in the room?” Mendive asked when told about the story. “I am anti-abortion, so that’s why I brought up that question,” he said.

Mendive said, “Actually I grew up in Kellogg, and the reality is there used to be brothels in Wallace. That was a career choice – no one forced them into that.” He said he didn’t mean that he thought prostitution should be legal. “I think that there’s kind of a double standard,” he said. “With abortion there are two beating hearts, and prostitution, there’s just one. If a woman were going to make a choice to be a prostitute, that’s her decision as to what to do with her body.”

He said in his view, it’s comparable to someone deciding to use illegal drugs. “I don’t support that either,” he said. “Those were just examples.”

Mendive said he didn’t feel like his question was answered. “She changed the topic,” he said of Hopkins, who noted that anti-human trafficking legislation may be introduced this year.  “Human trafficking is a real serious problem in this country,” Mendive said.

Asked about making the news like this when he’s just been serving in the Legislature for a week and a half, Mendive said, “I guess that’s life. There’s right and there’s wrong. I’ll stand up for right.” You can read the full story here at spokesman.com.

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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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