October 24, 2004 in Idaho

McClure aims to offer choice at polls

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

BOISE – Scott McClure says he’s an engineer, not a politician. But faced with the prospect of Idaho’s first-ever uncontested U.S. Senate race, he decided to become a write-in candidate against Sen. Mike Crapo to give people a choice.

“There are too many issues facing this state and this nation to allow such an important position as a seat in the U.S. Senate to go uncontested,” said McClure, 57, who owns a Twin Falls engineering firm.

He’s a moderate-Republican-turned-Democrat who’s found campaigning as both an underdog and a write-in to be a challenge.

“I’m the first to say that this is not the easiest way to do this,” he said. But it’s proved rewarding enough that he’s considering running again in the future – and starting early enough next time to get his name on the ballot.

“That is a possibility,” McClure said during a recent stop in Boise. “Now that I’ve tried it and perhaps understand what’s involved a little better. … It would be an interesting challenge.”

McClure has been campaigning by traveling around the state and appearing at fairs, candidate forums and other events.

“My primary concern about Senator Crapo’s record is with regard to the federal budget and the deficit that we’re getting ourselves into,” McClure said, “and the support for the tax cuts that I think are taking us in a very dangerous direction.”

McClure said that in the past year and a half, he’s seen huge increases in the cost of construction materials, such as a standard piece of rebar going from $2 to $8. He sees that as a sign that the federal deficit is hurting the economy. Cutting taxes in the face of such economic factors is “irresponsible of Congress and this administration,” McClure said.

McClure also wants an aggressive push for alternate energy resources to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, including developing nuclear energy and stepping up conservation efforts.

If he were a senator, he said, he’d push for more fiscal responsibility by opposing expansions of government without identified funding sources.

With a son in the Idaho National Guard and a son-in-law who returned from Iraq in March, McClure is concerned about the war.

“We must hold true to our mission of assisting the Iraqi people in establishing a democratic government,” he said. “At the same time, we need to recognize that our efforts over there are putting tremendous stress on our armed forces.”

America should expand its armed forces now, he said, or down the road, “we may have no choice but to go to a draft.”

He doesn’t differ with Crapo’s legislative efforts to support Idaho’s dairies. “The dairy industry has brought a substantial influx of capital into southern Idaho, and that has been very beneficial,” he said. “If there is an Achilles heel where they are vulnerable, it is their ability to address environmental problems.”

But McClure said he believes that can be addressed by state regulation and research into new technologies.

McClure said that though he’s running as a Democrat, his loyalty is more to the country than to the party. “There are just so many things left undone, because Congress cannot learn to work together for the good of the country,” he said. “I believe that I could serve as a bridge between the Democratic and Republican parties to actually start solving some of these problems that we have now.”

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