BOISE – Challenger C.T. “Chris” Troupis came out swinging against Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden Thursday night as the two Republicans 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 captured by the immense power of office,” Troupis said. “Time and again he’s chosen to side with the government rather than the people.”
Wasden 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 timberland. 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 said. “There are two factions, and to not recognize that is to not understand what is really going on here.”
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 required the Land Board to compete against private business in seeking returns from endowment investments to fund schools, just as it competes with private forestland owners in its timberland investments.
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.