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Eye on Boise: Fulcher: ‘We only have 2 bullets in the congressional gun’

Republican Russ Fulcher thanks supporters for his victory in the Idaho primary at an election night party Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald / AP)
Republican Russ Fulcher thanks supporters for his victory in the Idaho primary at an election night party Tuesday, May 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. (Darin Oswald / AP)
By Betsy Z. Russell Idaho Press-Tribune

While the relationship between Idaho’s two GOP congressmen has been famously prickly – in 2015, news surfaced that U.S. Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador hadn’t spoken in six months – Russ Fulcher, the GOP nominee for Labrador’s seat, says if he’s elected and Simpson wins an 11th term, he’ll get along with Simpson.

“It’s important that we work together,” he said.”We only have two bullets in the congressional gun.”

Fulcher noted that his first Washington, D.C., fundraiser after the primary election, in which he won a seven-way Republican primary with 43.1 percent of the vote, was co-hosted by Simpson and U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

Fulcher faces Democrat Cristina McNeil in November; she won a three-way Democratic primary in May with 69.7 percent of the vote.

Little on oil leases

A recent Democratic poll in the Idaho governor’s race included follow-up questions throwing some shade at Lt. Gov. Brad Little, the GOP nominee for governor, asking, “Opponents of Brad Little say that he is too close to the oil and gas industry and won’t stand up for the people of Idaho. Little leases land to oil and gas companies and has proven he will not protect Idaho public land. Does this make you more likely to support Brad Little?”

Asked recently, Little, a rancher, said he no longer has any oil or gas leases on his land. “We had ‘em, but I think every one of ‘em’s expired,” he said. “They did some seismic work out on some of our ground and some of my neighbor’s ground. … It’s not as good as everybody thought it was going to be.”

Jordan on why governor, not 1st CD…

I recently asked Paulette Jordan, the Democratic nominee for governor, why she chose to run for that office rather than the open 1st District congressional seat this year. Here’s her answer:

“I have no interest in leaving Idaho. I’m about Idaho, first and foremost. We need a lot of help here. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of fixing.”

Just how badly Fulcher was hurt…

When Fulcher had a motorcycle accident shortly after winning the GOP primary for Congress, his injuries were extensive: He broke nine ribs in two places; broke his clavicle; broke his scapula; and had a collapsed lung. He spent eight days in the hospital and had two surgeries; not long after, he returned to the campaign trail despite quite a bit of pain.

“I’ve ridden my entire life, and I even sold my machine – that was my brother’s bike,” said Fulcher, 56. “It was the first day off in over a year. … I went into a curve too hot.”

He made it through that curve, but not the one right after, which was covered in gravel. Even before he went down, he said, he knew what was coming. “I was immediately embarrassed.”

Hill: Ybarra has ‘no blame at all’

Tim Hill, associate deputy state superintendent of schools and a renowned numbers expert who’s worked under three state superintendents, spoke out last week about an error in the numbers in Superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s initial budget request, saying it was all his fault. Hill said he made the $100 million error when transferring formulas from a complex model for the state’s teacher career ladder, for which the state contracted with a professor five years ago.

“She has no blame at all,” Hill said of Ybarra. “That day was the worst day I’ve ever experienced. I’m totally embarrassed and frustrated.”

Kris Rodine, public information officer for the state Department of Education, said in retrospect, she wished she hadn’t included Hill’s name in Ybarra’s press release announcing the correction, but she said Hill insisted on being named.

Ybarra had originally called for raising top teacher base salaries in the career ladder up to $58,000 next year, rather than the planned $50,000; after the error was discovered, she lowered that to $52,000 to match the dollars she’d allocated.

“I appreciate Tim letting me know immediately so we could accurately reflect the pay raise I’m proposing,” Ybarra said when she announced the error. “I’m still excited to bring forward a proposal to do more than the career ladder, but I’m disappointed the $28.7 million won’t stretch as far as we had thought.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.