May 17, 2014 in Opinion

Editorial: Here are our picks, part one, in Idaho’s GOP primary election


Idaho voters will go to the polls Tuesday to vote in their party primaries. The Spokesman-Review supports candidates who will focus their efforts on the numerous challenges facing the state and not waste the state’s energies on rolling back the Affordable Care Act or gaining control of federal lands. Idaho’s schools and universities need funding and its roads rebuilding. Idaho’s economy will not grow robustly until those fundamental responsibilities have been met, and prospective employers see a state with the workers and infrastructure they need to compete globally. So far, the candidates have not done a good job explaining to voters how they will move Idaho forward.

Today, we submit our endorsements in the Republican races for attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, District 1 Senate and District 2 House. Tomorrow, we will add those for governor, lieutenant governor, controller, the Senate and one House race in District 3, and a District 4 House race.

We begin with wholehearted support for Lawrence Wasden, who is seeking his fourth term as attorney general. Simply put: He enforces the law, even when it puts him crossways with other Idaho legislative and executive officials. He sued the other members of the state Land Board because they refused to fulfill their constitutional duty to maximize returns on state lands. He called for a criminal investigation of understaffing by a for-profit prison operator despite opposition from the governor. More mundanely, he has helped reduce the unresolved claims in the massive Snake River water adjudication process to 100 from 19,000. Wasden and retiring Secretary of State Ben Ysursa are Idaho’s premier public servants.

Ysursa and predecessor Pete Cenarrusa saw to it that the secretary of state’s office stuck to its knitting; principally, managing elections and keeping state records. It’s no place for an ideologue like Lawerence Denney, who irresponsibly supported former state Sen. Phil Hart, a timber thief and tax dodger. Ysursa and many of Idaho’s county clerks have endorsed Phil McGrane, chief deputy Ada County clerk and a man who lives and breathes election minutiae. He is very well-qualified, Mitch Toryanski only slightly less so.

Unlike the departing officeholder, the four candidates for superintendent of public instruction are professional educators. Three of them support Idaho Core Standards. Cottonwoods School District teacher John Eynon does not, which is a deal-breaker. Randy Jensen, a principal from American Falls, is knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Sherri Ybarra, a curriculum director in the Mountain Home School District, lacked specifics in debates. The best choice is Andy Grover, of Melba. He is the only superintendent in the race, which gives him an edge in leadership. He’s also the strongest proponent of Common Core principles and student assessments.

In two key legislative races, voters can express their support for pragmatic leadership by retaining veteran Rep. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint in a District 1 race and booting Rep. Vito Barbieri of Dalton Gardens in District 2. Keough supports more educational funding and doesn’t waste time on counterproductive issues. Barbieri wants to reduce educational funding and embraces other extreme positions.

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