April 30, 2014 in Idaho

Idaho governor hopeful Fulcher launches ad campaign

By The Spokesman-Review

(Full-size photo)(All photos)

AdWatch: The Fulcher ad

• What it says : “I’m Russ Fulcher. I’m running for governor because the state I love has gotten too mixed up with the federal government that I don’t trust. Small government is the best government, and Washington, D.C., has no business in our classrooms or doctors’ offices. I’m blessed to be a husband, father, international businessman and conservative senator. This election isn’t about me. It’s about the future of Idaho and preserving our way of life. I have a solution-oriented vision for Idaho and I want to share it with you. Please check it out at RussFulcher.com.”

While Fulcher speaks and is shown interacting with Idahoans, messages including “Stop Obamacare” and “Stop Common Core” are displayed on screen.

• The message : “I think it’s effective as Russ Fulcher introducing himself to Idaho voters,” Boise State University professor emeritus Jim Weatherby said. “As far as substantive content, there isn’t much.”

• The claims : Fulcher says his “solution-oriented vision for Idaho” is on his website. A look there shows much material criticizing the Affordable Care Act and Common Core. Just added under “Press Releases” is a link to a summary of Fulcher’s vision, called “Two Futures for Idaho.” It calls for more investments in technology and natural resources industries; and replacing the Affordable Care Act with high-deductible plans, health savings accounts and charity care.

BOISE – With just three weeks left before Idaho’s primary election, GOP gubernatorial challenger Russ Fulcher has launched his first statewide campaign commercial and posted billboards around the state.

Incumbent Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t, but plans to hit the airwaves between now and the primary, said Jayson Ronk, Otter’s campaign manager.

Otter has been running a low-key race as he seeks a third term, leaving Fulcher, the Idaho Senate’s GOP majority caucus chairman, to face off with fringe candidates Harley Brown and Walter Bayes at candidate forums.

Otter agreed to one debate with Fulcher and the other two candidates, which will air May 14 on Idaho Public Television. The primary election is May 20.

China Gum, Fulcher’s campaign manager, said, “If Russ Fulcher’s legacy was the legacy that the governor has, then he probably wouldn’t want to get out in front of the people and answer questions, too.”

Ronk said, “We’ve got a full campaign plan that we intend to execute.”

Fulcher has been critical of Otter’s move to establish a state-based health insurance exchange, the issue that prompted him to challenge the governor in the primary. He’s also been outspoken about opposing new Common Core standards for what children should learn in school, though he initially voted for the standards in 2011; Otter supports them.

Brown and Bayes have run for office before without getting many votes. Brown has run for seats ranging from mayor to Congress, saying God has called him to become president of the United States. Bayes expounds a sharp anti-abortion message.

Fulcher complains that Otter is ducking him. Otter has responded that he’s busy governing. Though he hinted for more than a year that he’d seek a third term, Otter didn’t formally announce his re-election bid until April 1, when he made appearances in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Meridian. Fulcher announced five months ago.

Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus and longtime observer of Idaho politics, said it’s a common strategy for a well-known incumbent to essentially ignore his opponent, “not giving exposure to his underfunded challenger.” That kind of “Rose Garden strategy” can pay off if a challenger simply remains unknown.

But Weatherby said he’s surprised Idahoans haven’t heard more from both candidates, and long before now. The Republican nominee likely will face Democrat A.J. Balukoff in November; he faces just token opposition in the Democratic primary.

Gum said Fulcher’s new commercial is intended to introduce the candidate to the people of Idaho as part of a multipronged strategy. “On a larger scale, he’s logged 17,000 miles on his truck since he announced, traveling around the state, speaking with different groups of people – so this is just another leg of that stool, in a broader outreach,” she said.

The spot started airing Tuesday and is running statewide, including on cable TV in North Idaho.

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