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Feel Ignored? Here Are The Debate Gems

Sat., Nov. 2, 1996, midnight

It’s an odd election year when a U.S. senator refuses to debate his opponent in North Idaho, but northerners shouldn’t despair.

North-South Notes is pleased to bring you highlights from the second, and last, face-off between Sen. Larry Craig and challenger Walt Minnick this past week in Boise.

Before a raucous crowd at Boise State University, the two, along with Independent Mary Charbonneau and Natural Law Party candidate Susan Vegors, produced some real gems.

You’ve heard about the back-and-forth on negative advertising. That’s when the born-again Minnick asked Craig to cease running ads and mailers that misrepresent Minnick’s positions on everything from taxes to abortion. And Craig, halo firmly in place, insisted he’s never, ever gone negative.

Craig then told Minnick, “My ads that are running now pale compared to yours.”

To which Charbonneau, adjusting her glasses on her nose, responded acidly, “I’d like to say that two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Vegors said, “Looking at these campaigns, it’s a wonder anyone has the intestinal fortitude to handle what’s going on.”

And Minnick and Craig both agreed on one thing: bashing their host, Boise’s Idaho Statesman newspaper, which co-sponsored the debate.

Minnick said he read something about a Craig position in the paper, and Craig said, “That was your first mistake.”

“Touche, senator,” Minnick said. “This is one area where Sen. Craig and I do agree.”

Charbonneau, who boasted repeatedly that she got 100 percent in a class on problem-solving, topped them all with this answer to a question about term limits: “Me personally, the way I am, 100 percent problem-solver, one term might be enough.”

Don’t try to escape

Get ready for the onslaught. The money that the National Republican Congressional Committee funneled into get-out-the-Republican-vote efforts in North Idaho this year is dwarfed by the nearly $800,000 the Idaho Democratic Party raised during the first three weeks of October for its statewide efforts.

That brings the state Democrats to $1.7 million in campaign fund raising through Oct. 20, while the state Republican Party had raised only about $1 million.

The massive last-minute money means Democrats may make an even stronger push than Republicans to get their voters out to the polls on Election Day. So whichever way you lean, if someone hasn’t called you, rung your bell or sent you mail yet to remind you to vote, they’re bound to soon.

The political game

Few up north are tuned into the leadership battle that’s going on among state Senate Republicans between popular Sen. Sheila Sorensen and former Senate president pro-tem Jim Risch, both of Boise.

But Sen. Gordon Crow, R-Hayden, seems to know just what’s happening. His campaign finance report shows he somehow wangled $250 contributions to his campaign not just from one or the other, but from both.

, DataTimes MEMO: North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to

North-South Notes runs every other Saturday. To reach Betsy Z. Russell, call 336-2854, send a fax to 336-0021 or e-mail to

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