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GOP candidate with domestic violence record says he’ll drop out of race, but it’s too late to remove name from ballot
Canyon County GOP legislative candidate Greg Chaney announced Wednesday that he’ll suspend his campaign, after news surfaced that the candidate, unopposed in the primary, hadn’t revealed his past domestic violence and multiple-bankruptcy record. An initially defensive Chaney said he’d reformed, found God, and he and his third wife now live frugally. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports today that Chaney issued a press release yesterday making the announcement, but it’s already too late to remove his name from the ballot; that deadline was 45 days before the election, and Chaney’s announcement came just 27 days before Idaho’s May 20 primary.
Brian Bishop, a Harvard-educated Caldwell attorney, is running as a write-in and told the Press-Tribune he plans to actively campaign; early and absentee voting already has started. You can read the Press-Trib’s full report here from reporters Bobby Atkinson and John Funk.
On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” program on Idaho Public Television, I join Jim Weatherby and co-hosts Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz for a discussion of current events and election politics. Also, Davlin and Kunz discuss Idaho college tuition hikes and the state Republican Party’s platform survey for candidates, and Davlin and Seth Ogilvie interview two legislative candidates facing off in the primary – both Democrats from District 19, Troy Rohn and Melissa Wintrow. It’s the latest in a series of looks at legislative races around the state. The show airs at 8 p.m. tonight; it re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time, 9:30 Pacific; and plays on Boise State Public Radio on Sunday at 7 p.m. After it airs, you can watch it here online any time.
Greg Chaney, who is unopposed on the GOP ballot for a House seat in Canyon County but whose domestic violence and multiple-bankruptcy record caused an uproar in Canyon County GOP politics, announced at a county central committee meeting last night that he’ll stay in the race. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports that Chaney said, “I just want to reassure that it was never my intention to misstate or misrepresent anything that’s happened in the past. I also feel very strongly that I have a unique position to carry the conservative voice forward for Canyon County.”
Chaney said he has found God and changed his ways, and he and his third wife now live frugally; he plans to campaign on a platform of family values and fiscal responsibility. Meanwhile, Brian Bishop, a Harvard-educated attorney in Caldwell, has launched a write-in campaign against Chaney in the GOP primary in legislative District 10. The seat is question is now held by retiring longtime Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell.
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.
Monica Hopkins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho since 2008, will leave in May for a similar position with the organization in Washington, D.C., the group announced today. Hopkins' last day will be May 16; in her new job, she’ll be executive director of the ACLU in the Nation’s Capital. The Idaho ACLU said it plans “a very deliberate and thoughtful process” to select Hopkins’ replacement; you can read their full announcement here.
Canyon County GOP politics are in an uproar after the GOP candidate, unopposed in the primary, for longtime Rep. Darrell Bolz’ seat turned out to have a criminal record for domestic violence; Idaho Statesman reporters Dan Popkey and Cynthia Sewell report today that the candidate, Greg Chaney, also has two bankruptcies on his record. He told the Statesman he’s now found God and he and his third wife are living frugally; Chaney’s record was first disclosed last week by the Idaho Press-Tribune.
But here’s the political fallout: Bolz told the Statesman he’s having second thoughts about supporting Chaney – whom he escorted around the Capitol at the close of the session. “It’s very disconcerting, OK?” Bolz told Popkey. A new write-in GOP candidate has emerged for the seat, Brian Bishop, a Harvard-educated attorney in Caldwell and BYU graduate who says he’s very serious about his run. And Chaney now says he might withdraw, after meeting with Bishop tonight at a Canyon County Republican Central Committee meeting. Canyon County GOP Chairwoman Melinda Smyser told the Statesman that all candidates, including Chaney and Bishop, will have a chance to speak at the 7 p.m. meeting at the Canyon County Courthouse, which will be open to the public.
Legislative District 10 is the same one where then-Sen. John McGee resigned in disgrace in 2012 after a sexual harassment scandal involving a female Senate aide, a year after he’d kept his Senate GOP leadership post despite a DUI conviction. The other current District 10 representative, Brandon Hixon, 32, was elected two years ago despite revelations that he’d had five misdemeanors by age 21. Said Bolz, “People are just beginning to wonder what the devil’s going on in District 10.” Popkey and Sewell’s full report is online here.
As the 2nd District congressional race heats up, with money pouring in from outside groups and name-calling ads from both sides on TV in southern Idaho, Idaho Statesman reporter Sven Berg took a look Sunday at GOP challenger Bryan Smith and his career as an attorney in Idaho Falls. Smith, whom incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson is criticizing in TV ads as a “personal injury lawyer,” actually has made his career as something of a debt collector, Berg reports, founding or co-owning two firms that buy unpaid medical debt from doctors and other creditors, and working closely with Smith’s law firm, sue the debtors who don’t pay, forcing wage garnishments and bankruptcies.
An Idaho Falls bankruptcy attorney estimated that one of the firms has triggered a third to half of Bonneville County’s bankruptcies in recent years. Berg’s full report is online here.
On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” program on Idaho Public Television, I join Jim Weatherby and co-hosts Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz for a discussion of current events, from election politics to agency rule-making. Also, Davlin and Seth Ogilvie discuss rifts in the Idaho Republican Party and report on a District 34 race, in which freshman GOP Rep. Douglas Hancey is being challenged in the primary by Ron Nate; it’s the first in a series focusing on some of the legislative races around the state. The show airs at 8 p.m. tonight; it re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time, 9:30 Pacific; and plays on Boise State Public Radio on Sunday at 7 p.m. After it airs, you can watch it here online any time.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has declined to fill out a form certifying that he agrees with each and every tenet of the Idaho Republican Party platform, including repealing the 17th amendment – direct election of U.S. senators – and returning to the gold standard. Instead, Otter submitted a letter to the party saying, “I have chosen not to fill out the specific policy sections of the disclosure statement. A brief statement cannot fully encompass my positions on these issues.”
He included some statements of his overall philosophy, and wrote, “I believe that repealing the 17th Amendment is unnecessary if the 10th Amendment is fully and properly applied, but discussion and debate on that alternative is healthy for our republic. I oppose adopting the gold standard for our currency because of the critical leadership position the United States must take in the global market, but I support auditing the Federal Reserve in the interest of transparency and accountability.”
He added, “There are other policy statements in the platform with which I generally agree, but I do not believe those statements adequately serve the purpose of completely informing voters on key issues.” You can read Otter’s full letter here. Among the other gubernatorial candidates in the GOP primary, Russ Fulcher and Walt Bayes both filled out the party’s form and checked that they agree with every item in the platform, without comment; candidate Harley Brown hasn’t submitted a form.
A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor, is refusing to fill out a National Rifle Association candidate questionnaire, saying it’s “biased and loaded with leading questions that do not allow me to accurately state my position on gun laws.” In a letter back to the NRA, he wrote, “The leading questions and multiple-choice answers in your questionnaire allow for only polarizing and extreme positions.” He noted in particular a question about Idaho’s guns on campus bill, SB 1254, that passed this year. “I believe this bill was not necessary and creates more problems than it solves,” Balukoff wrote. “University presidents, faculty and students should have the ability to determine the culture of their college campus. That culture should not be dictated from the Statehouse.”
You can read both Balukoff’s letter and the NRA questionnaire online here. Balukoff faces Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls in the Democratic primary in May; GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who backed SB 1254 and signed it into law, faces Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who also supported the bill, along with two other GOP primary challengers, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
Sen. Rand Paul, who topped the latest CNN poll about GOP presidential contenders for 2016, will speak at the Idaho Republican Party’s state convention in Moscow on June 13, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports. Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson told Popkey that Paul was invited by Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador. “It’s a big deal,” Peterson said. You can read Popkey’s full post here.
Gov. Butch Otter is formally launching his re-election campaign today with a four-stop tour of the state. As campaign announcements go, it’s a bit anti-climactic; Otter filed for a third term on March 3, and first announced to supporters that he’d run for one at a North Idaho governor’s ball in December of 2011.
Otter’s tour today includes an 8 a.m. stop at Western States Equipment Company in Meridian; a 10:30 a.m. visit to Glanbia Foods in Twin Falls; a 12:30 visit to Snake River Landing in Idaho Falls; and a 4 p.m. stop at AGC AeroComposites in Hayden. Campaign manager Jayson Ronk said the locations were picked to emphasize economic development.
“It has been my honor to serve the people of Idaho as governor,” Otter said in a news release. “We have accomplished great things over the past seven years, but my work is not yet complete. We need to continue to make sure we are preparing Idaho’s workforce for a more competitive future, and that there are career opportunities available here so our citizens and communities can prosper.”
Otter also released a list of 18 GOP senators and 35 GOP House members who are backing his re-election bid. He faces a primary challenge from Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. The victor from the GOP primary faces Democrat A.J. Balukoff in November. Also on the ballot are an array of other candidates: Two independents, Jill Humble of Boise and “Pro-Life”; Libertarian John Bujak; Constitution Party candidate Steve Pankey; perennial candidates Walt Bayes and Harley Brown in the GOP primary; and former local GOP candidate Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls in the Democratic primary.
As of January, Otter had raised $708,000 for his re-election campaign, dwarfing the campaign warchests of all the other candidates.
Fulcher criticized Otter’s tour, saying, “The Otter administration will be remembered as eight years of missed opportunities. An announcement tour to a select group of businesses that are friendly to him cannot hide his lack of leadership on the issues that are most important to Idaho. Everything is not 'awesome' as Otter would like us to believe. Idaho can do better.”
Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa today threw his support to Phil McGrane in the four-way GOP race for the office Ysursa will be retiring from at the end of the year. “After 40 years in this office – three terms as secretary and 28 years as a deputy to Pete Cenarrusa – I kinda have an attachment to that place,” Ysursa told a boisterous crowd of more than 60 McGrane supporters gathered in the Statehouse rotunda. “So I’m very concerned and very interested in who my successor is going to be.”
Ysursa said he’s had lots of inquiries from people, “just out on the street, at the golf course, wherever,” as to which of the candidates is best. “In my opinion, the individual who has best demonstrated to me the requisite skills to be secretary of state … without a doubt is Phil McGrane,” Ysursa said to cheers. Ysursa pointed to McGrane’s years of election experience, as chief deputy Ada County clerk, and his legal background as an attorney (Ysursa, too, is an attorney). McGrane, he said, “possesses the competence, the integrity and the character to lead the secretary of state’s office in the future, and that is why I’m endorsing Phil McGrane for secretary of state.”
The other three GOP candidates are former House Speaker Lawerence Denney of Midvale, former Sen. Mitch Toryanski of Boise and former Sen. Evan Frasure of Pocatello. The winner of the GOP contest in May will face Democratic Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise in November; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
McGrane called the endorsement “very significant,” saying, “We’ve had so much trust in that office. … Ben has been the cornerstone of that for many years. You look at secretary of state offices around the country – they don’t have the same reputation that our secretary of state has. So I think it means a lot to the citizens of Idaho. There’s a reason Ben’s the top vote-getter in the state. I look forward to following in his footsteps.”
Lots of news has happened over the past week while I’ve been off work. Here’s some catch-up:
Gov. Butch Otter signed 112 bills into law on Wednesday (the list he published looked much longer, but nearly every bill was listed twice); and 48 on Friday – and still hadn’t vetoed a single one of the more than 400 bills passed this year. Among those signed on Wednesday: HB 462, the ski area liability bill; three pieces of the public school budget, which overall shows a 5.1 percent increase in state funding; SB 1314, the controversial payday loan bill; SB 1354a, on bad-faith patent infringements; SB 1372, the school student data security bill; SB 1374a, allowing the state Board of Corrections to contract out inmates for farm labor; and HB 470a, the $400,000 wolf control bill, which had an emergency clause and took effect immediately upon signing. You can read a full report here on that bill from AP reporter Nick Geranios.
Among those signed on Friday: HB 518a, modifying last year’s bill to regulate scrap metal businesses in an effort to crack down on metal theft; the remaining pieces of the public school budget; SB 1394, raising Idaho judges’ salaries; SB 1417, the higher ed budget, which reflects a 6.2 percent increase in state general funds; SB 1421, the state prisons budget, which reflects an 11 percent increase; and numerous other agency budget bills.
Reporter Clark Corbin of Idaho Education News analyzed the legislative session’s progress on the 20 recommendations of the governor’s education improvement task force; you can read his report here. And Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert queried the five candidates for state superintendent of schools on how they grade the 2014 legislative session, and if elected, what their priorities would be for next year; his full report is online here.
The Idaho Department of Labor reported that Idaho personal income jumped 3.7 percent in 2013, a full percentage point more than the nation and third-highest among the states in percentage increase; you can read more here. The department also reported Idaho’s population shift from rural to urban counties slowed in 2013 as the 33 rural counties saw their combined population increase for the first time in three years; there’s more on that here. And Boise State Public Radio reported that a new study shows an Idaho worker earning minimum wage would need to work 73 hours a week in order to afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment; see their report here.
The University of Idaho named Mark Adams, former vice dean at Valparaiso University Law School, as the new dean of its College of Law. The Oregonian reported that state Sen. Curt McKenzie’s ex-wife, Renee, has sued the state of Oregon for blocking her plans to marry a convicted murderer serving two life sentences in an Oregon prison. Meanwhile, Idaho Reports on Idaho Public TV took a look Friday at how lawmakers’ attention is turning to primary elections, talked with lobbyists about the 2014 legislative session, and more; you can watch here.
Several stars from the A&E program “Duck Dynasty” appeared at a fundraiser for Idaho GOP secretary of state candidate Lawerence Denney on Saturday night, and Idaho Statesman reporter John Sowell reports that “several thousand” people attended the event at the Idaho Center, which seats 12,279. You can read Sowell’s full report here; he reports that Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, 67, clutching a Bible, told the crowd, “When this goes, your freedom goes with it.”
Close to two dozen “Add the Words” protesters protested outside; one counter-protester held a small sign saying, “Phil for President.” Sowell reports that Denney appeared briefly onstage to introduce several Robertson family members, and said he’d known the family for many years; his daughter Stephanie works for their family business, Duck Commander, and Alan Roberts, a minister, married Stephanie and her husband Jason. Last year, Phil Robertson was temporarily suspended from the show after making anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ magazine.
Meanwhile, Holli Woodings, a Democrat who also is running for Idaho secretary of state, sent out an email noting that Denney sold tickets for the campaign event for $47. “Why is that important? Because Idaho’s sunshine law requires candidates to report every contribution over $50,” she wrote. “Contributions under $50 don’t have to be disclosed. That means no one who attends this event will appear on Denney’s sunshine report. So why would someone who wants to be secretary of state – the very person in charge of upholding our sunshine laws – try to skirt the system?” Woodings said, “Denney isn’t technically breaking the law, but let’s face it – he’s definitely violating the spirit of the law.” She invited her supporters to send her $51 contributions – exceeding the reporting limit and requiring that the donations be disclosed.
Denney is in a four-way GOP race for secretary of state, an open post since longtime GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is retiring; the other Republicans running are former state Sen. Evan Frasure, chief deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, and former Sen. Mitch Toryanski. Woodings is unopposed on the Democratic ticket; the primary is May 20.
GOP lawmakers who voted last year in favor of the state health insurance exchange weren’t more likely to draw primary challenges this year after all, Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reported on Sunday; he calculated that 36 percent of those who voted “no” drew primary opponents this year – identical to the 36 percent who voted “yes.” “This is the ultimate reality check,” House Speaker Scott Bedke told Popkey.
The numbers give the lie to widespread predictions that the exchange votes would spell trouble for GOP lawmakers in this year’s Republican primary election on May 20. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a strident opponent of the exchange, targeted a number of “yes” voters with billboards in their districts; in one of those districts, District 27, all three incumbent Republicans are unopposed both in the primary and in the November general election. Popkey’s full report is online here.
Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney stumped for Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Sen. Jim Risch and Congressman Mike Simpson in Boise on Thursday, the AP reports, saying he was endorsing the three because they are good conservatives and because they were early endorsers of his presidential campaign. Romney said GOP-dominated Idaho is a good example of how conservative principles can lead to economic prosperity. “There are more jobs in Idaho and you see rising incomes,” he said. “If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Romney, who lost to President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, also said he does not plan to run for president again; click below for a full report from AP reporter Nick Geranios.
Democratic candidate for governor A.J. Balukoff spoke out today against the guns-on-campus bill that Gov. Butch Otter signed into law yesterday, saying, “That’s a solution looking for a problem. It was totally unnecessary, and I think the process to pass that was just as flawed as the bill.” Balukoff, the chairman of the Boise School Board, said, “It was an erosion of local control. … It’s also an unfunded mandate to our colleges and universities, who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
Balukoff’s comments came in response to reporters’ questions as he held a news conference on the Statehouse steps today to note that he and running mate Bert Marley have filed their candidacy papers; Marley, a former Democratic state senator and longtime teacher, is running for lieutenant governor.
“State government continues to focus on issues that polarize and divide people rather than bringing us together,” Balukoff said. “Most of the issues they’ve dealt with in this legislative session will have very little practical impact on most Idahoans, but they take time and energy and resources away from the important issues, education and our economy.”
Balukoff also was asked about the Corrections Corp. of America, which operates Idaho’s largest state prison, but the state is now taking it back over amid scandal and lawsuits. “I’m glad that the FBI is doing an investigation,” Balukoff said. “I think that we’ll be better off running our prisons internally, instead of contracting that out to for-profit companies. It just doesn’t sound right to me to make profit off of a prison system. It’s more than warehousing people. We should be educating, rehabilitating those people so that they can return to society, support their families and be productive members of our communities.”
In addition to Balukoff, Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls filed to run for governor as a Democrat this week, though he’s run for local office as a Republican in the past. GOP candidates who have filed thus far include incumbent Gov. Butch Otter; Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; and perennial office-seeker Harley Brown of Nampa. The filing deadline is tomorrow.
Boise attorney Christ Troupis, who represented the Idaho Republican Party in its successful lawsuit against the state to close the GOP primary, announced his candidacy today for Idaho Attorney General, challenging GOP Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. “I believe the time is right to ensure that Idahoans have a meaningful choice in this year’s election,” Troupis declared on the Statehouse steps to about 40 supporters, who cheered, applauded, and occasionally called out “amen.”
Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, introduced Troupis. “We need some changes there, and he is the answer,” Pearce said. “He’s a constitutional attorney who’s shown his moxie.”
Troupis said he’s changing the spelling of his first name for the campaign from Christ to Chris, which is how his first name always has been pronounced anyway; he'll go by C.T. “Chris” Troupis. “I don’t want the election to be about my name,” he said. Christ, pronounced Chris, is his given name, bestowed by his parents as a shortened version of his Greek father’s first name, Christos. “I’m proud of my name,” Troupis said. “It’s just that ‘Chris’ is a better name to run on.”
Wasden is seeking re-election to a fourth term; he was unopposed when he won his third term in 2010. In 2006, he won his second term with 62 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Bob Wallace.
Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is running for Secretary of State, was involved in a conflict that sparked accusations of theft, private work done on state time, political retribution, state contracts that benefited his family, undeclared conflict of interest and more – all involving the former employment of his wife, Donna, by a state agency, Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell reported in a Sunday story. To make the tale even more interesting, Donna Denney’s former boss was Kim Toryanski, wife of Denney’s GOP Secretary of State rival Mitch Toryanski, and former head of the Idaho Commission on Aging.
Sewell reports that Kim Toryanski told an Idaho State Police detective investigating the case that she resigned her position and went to work for another state agency due to “political pressures, particularly from Speaker Denney and his political allies.” The Denneys referred Sewell’s questions to their attorney, David Leroy.