Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, is among the Legislature’s most conservative voices, pushing legislation to tell the federal government to “back off” and to assert that the federal government can’t regulate in-state gun sales.
As he seeks a sixth term, Harwood’s sticking to that line and says it’s resonating in his North Idaho district, but his Democratic challenger, Jon Ruggles, says he’s hearing a different message.
“It’s jobs, the level of instability, is my son or daughter going to be able to stay in Idaho? What am I going to do if I lose my job?” said Ruggles, chairman of the East Shoshone Hospital District board and prominent Wallace resident who’s known for his work on trails and city projects.
“Really, I’m not hearing ‘Let’s go out and sue the federal government,’ which is what Harwood and all those guys want,” Ruggles said. “Let’s spend our money on classes, not courtrooms. When I tell people that, they all nod their heads.”
But Harwood says, “I just feel like it’s my duty to fight back from some of the stuff that the federal government’s been doing to the state and to the people.”
• Dick Harwood , 62
Bio: Five-term state representative from St. Maries; retired owner of H&H Cleaning and Quality Concrete; former millwright/welder, logger, truck driver and Cat operator; attended community college. Married, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Campaign promises: “I’ll push back from the federal government’s encroachment on our states’ rights.”
Notable: Harwood has often clashed with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, whose reservation is in his district. In 2009, he said in House debate that the United States is really a confederacy.
• Jon Ruggles , 56
Bio: Carpenter and owner of a construction company; elected chairman of East Shoshone Hospital District board; founding member/past president, Friends of Coeur d’Alene Trails; founder, Wallace Farmers Market; bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University in San Bernardino; former adjunct instructor in political science at North Idaho College. Married, one child.
Campaign promises: “I want to ratchet down the tone of rhetoric that’s flowing.” Backs flat tax, increased school funding.
Notable: A cancer survivor, Ruggles has been cancer-free for seven years, but his recovery left him with a speech impairment. Though that makes him harder to understand, he said, “They tend to listen, strangely enough, more diligently.”