BOISE – The harshest political ad on the air in Idaho’s governor’s race goes after Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff, branding him a “liberal” and attempting to tie him to President Barack Obama.
Balukoff, a Boise businessman and longtime chairman of the Boise School Board who is challenging Republican Gov. Butch Otter, says the ad is full of “lies and distortions,” particularly for tying him to Obama – when he was a supporter of Mitt Romney for president.
The ad is from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a business lobbying group, as part of its independent campaign against Balukoff. The group maintains each of its claims is backed up by a news article or other source.
“It’s a critical part of our mission to inform voters about the true positions of someone running for our highest office,” Alex LaBeau, IACI president, said in a statement. The ad is part of a multipronged campaign the group is running that also includes a website, LiberalAJ.com, and mailers.
IACI cites Balukoff’s support for an unsuccessful voter initiative in 2006 to increase school funding in Idaho by raising the sales tax to 6 percent as support for its “increased taxes” claim. But the Legislature that year, in a special session, raised the tax to 6 percent to fund property tax relief three months before the election; the initiative then failed. Idaho’s sales tax remains at 6 percent.
“To use that as validation for the absurd claim that A.J. Balukoff intends to raise taxes is quite a stretch,” said Balukoff’s campaign spokesman, Mike Lanza.
Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus, said he’s not surprised that Otter is letting the business group run the attack ad, rather than dirtying his own hands.
“Is it over the top? Sure. But a lot of negative advertising is,” Weatherby said. “Are there exaggerations? Yes. I mean, it’s a real stretch to tie a school board president to the president of the United States.”