BOISE – This week will bring the big debates in the races for Idaho’s U.S. Senate and 1st District congressional seats, with incumbent Sen. Mike Crapo and Congressman Walt Minnick facing off with their challengers on statewide TV.
The “Idaho Debates,” sponsored for the past three decades by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club and broadcast live on Idaho Public Television, will turn to the Senate race on Tuesday night, starting at 7 p.m. Pacific time, with Crapo debating Democratic challenger Tom Sullivan.
The 1st Congressional District debate between Minnick, GOP challenger Raul Labrador and independent Dave Olson of St. Maries is set for Thursday, also at 7 p.m. Pacific time; each debate will last for an hour.
To gear up for the debates, here’s what the leading candidates had to say when each was asked for a one- to two-sentence statement of his campaign promises:
Minnick: “I am running to continue working hard for Idaho veterans, seniors and families. Whether it’s fighting red tape for a small business, helping a family with an adoption or standing firm for fiscal responsibility, I promise to always do what’s right for Idaho.”
Labrador: “I will bring true Idaho conservative values to Washington, D.C. I will always fight for my principles and the principles of the Republican Party: limited government, lower taxes and a commitment to creating jobs without more bailouts or adding to the national debt.”
Crapo: “I promise to work hard for Idahoans, fight to protect our Constitution, eliminate the national debt and our culture of deficit spending, reduce federal regulations that choke our economy, cut the size, expense and control of the federal government, and always to listen to Idahoans to find common sense solutions to our problems as I represent Idahoans in the U.S. Senate.”
Sullivan: “I will work to see “Made in America” again; I will support small business, fair taxes and responsible spending to avoid ever repeating the enormous deficit racked up between 2000 and 2008 and I’ll vote in the interests of the people of Idaho, not for Wall Street interests; I will work to bring new technology, jobs, training and education to make Idaho a green energy leader in 21st century.”
During last week’s debate between the two candidates for Idaho state schools chief, incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Democratic challenger Stan Olson were asked about the state’s math initiative.
Luna said it’s had “tremendous impact.” He noted that, among other changes, students are choosing to do additional math through the computerized Apangea math program he’s added in classrooms. “We have states from all over the country that are coming to Idaho to learn about our math initiative,” Luna said.
Olson said that program hasn’t impacted instruction, and questioned whether its manufacturer was a campaign contributor to Luna. “It would be compared to the rooster crowing in the morning being credited for the sunrise,” he said.
A check of Idaho Secretary of State’s records shows Apangea, headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., contributed $500 to Luna’s campaign on June 15, 2009; reports on the most recent campaign finance filing period will come out in a week.
An odd moment in the superintendent debate came when the two candidates were asked if they’d take the Idaho Standards Achievement Test, the test Idaho requires high school students to pass before they graduate, publicize their scores, and even have their pay rest on the result.
Olson said lightly that he’d take parts of it, but said, “I would not want to take especially the math portion of the ISAT. … Math is an area that I have struggled with all of my life, and still am in the process of developing my skills and my understanding.”
Luna responded, “So let me see if I understand this right – this test is such a low bar and so easy, but it’s something you would avoid taking? … That’s because it’s difficult, folks.”
Olson has been critical of the test as a measure of overall student achievement.
Luna said, “As a matter of fact, I took those tests.” Luna said he, many legislators, and then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne took the test when it was first developed.
Olson responded, “We’re not allowed to open up the test” and administer it to others. “That’s bad test protocol.”
The candidate for Idaho governor who was formerly known as Marvin Richardson – until he legally changed his name to “Pro-Life” – shared this with Eye on Boise: “I believe that when you split atoms, you’ve murdered an atom, that God doesn’t intend any of the atoms to be split. That’s the basic building blocks of the universe and eternity. And that’s why you get such toxic waste from splitting atoms. I think it’s just the most stupid and horrendous thing to think of.” He added, “That’s kind of a spiritual position.”