BOISE – Challenger C.T. “Chris” Troupis came out swinging against Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden Thursday night as the two met in a televised debate, accusing the third-term official of being “weak” and having “lost his way.”
“Perhaps decades ago, he had the right vision, but his weak actions show that he’s been caputured by the immense power of office,” Troupis declared. “Time and again he’s chosen to side with the government rather than the people.”
Wasden, like Troupis a Republican, countered, “It’s important to distinguish between rhetoric and reality. You need to have an Attorney General who will tell you what you need to know, rather than what you want to hear. The one who will tell you the whole story, not just the part that can be manipulated to one’s political advantage.”
Troupis pressed for repeal of Obamacare, taking over federal lands within Idaho, and limiting all of Idaho’s state endowment land investments to timber land. But Wasden said none of those are within the legal or constitutional power of Idaho’s Attorney General.
“This is in fact a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Wasden declared. “There are two factions, and to not recognize that is to not understand what is really going on here. There are some mainstream, rational folks, and there are some folks that are on the edge, and that’s just how it is. And so I do hope that the rational thought comes through. … That is the context in which this election is occurring.”
Troupis countered, “I think I’m right in the mainstream.” He noted that the Idaho Legislature has backed measures calling for a state takeover of federal lands. “Almost every Republican voted for those bills,” he said.
“I think the tea party has adopted me because I have the same values that they do, but I don’t view myself as a tea party candidate,” Troupis said. “In fact I view myself as a mainstream candidate.”
He said his views that the state Land Board shouldn’t compete with private business in its endowment investments “are all mainstream matters.”
But Wasden said the Idaho Constitution actually requires the Land Board to compete against private business in seeking returns from endowment investments to fund schools, just as it competes with private forest land owners in its timber land investments. “It said, ‘Land Board, you’re in business,’” he said. “’Your job is to go out in the private marketplace and to make as much money as you can for schools.’ … By definition you have to compete with the private sector – that’s the only place in which you make money.”
Wasden is seeking a fourth four-year term; after his 12 years in office, he is now the state’s longest-serving attorney general. Troupis, who represented the Idaho Republican Party in its successful lawsuit against the state to close the GOP primary elections to anyone other than registered Republicans, has a solo private practice in Eagle, just west of Boise.
The debate, broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television, was the first in a series of nine leading up to Idaho’s May 20 primary election; the “Idaho Debates” are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. On Friday night, candidates for state controller will face off at 8 p.m., and for state treasurer at 8:30.