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No sign of Ward so far…

While GOP candidates including congressional hopeful Raul Labrador, Gov. Butch Otter, state Treasurer Ron Crane, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Controller Donna Jones, gubernatorial hopeful Rex Rammell, and even former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig have been mingling with the crowd at the GOP election-night headquarters at the Doubletree Riverside in Boise, there’s been no sign as yet of 1st District hopeful Vaughn Ward, a notable absence.

First election results: AP calls primary for Crapo

The first few election results are in, and the Associated Press has called the U.S. Senate GOP primary in favor of the incumbent, Sen. Mike Crapo, who had about 80 percent of the vote over Claude “Skip” Davis in early results. Ada County also has released its first batch of absentee voting results; they show incumbent Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick leading 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, 3,708 to 2,033.

Ysursa: Turnout reports suggest ‘kinda quiet’

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has made his victory speech - he was unopposed in the GOP primary. “I’ve been on pins and needles all night,” Ysursa joked, joined by his wife Penny. Asked about the turnout in today’s primary election, Ysursa said, “We hear there are pockets of good turnout, but … it’s hard to tell. I hope I’m wrong - I hope we’re higher than 26 percent. We’ll see.”

Ysursa has been predicting a 26 percent turnout of registered voters in today’s primary, a typically low Idaho primary election turnout. “The calls were it was kind of an uneventful day,” Ysursa said. “It was kinda quiet.”

Labrador: ‘We had a lot of enthusiasm’

Congressional candidate Raul Labrador is happily visiting with supporters tonight at the Doubletree Riverside, where Republicans are gathering to watch the election-night results. “I think we’ve done a great job,” Labrador said. “We had such limited fundraising but as you can tell, we had a lot of enthusiasm. We’ve got a lot of people who really believe in my message, and they believe I’ve been principled in everything I’ve done.” Labrador had no comment on national political blogs that today have been sharply mocking his GOP primary opponent, Vaughn Ward, for everything from his campaign flubs to a video mash-up created by an Idaho legislative candidate stringing together similar turns of phrase between a Ward speech and Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention speech.

Said Labrador, “My goal is to help Republicans get elected, whatever happens.”

Numbers and older voters…

With the polls just moments away from closing in Boise, and a little over an hour from closing in North Idaho, here’s some food for thought: Were many of the people you saw voting at your polling place older folks, 50-plus? Prompting the question: The Idaho AARP has released a breakdown of its members by congressional and legislative district, and the group has 185,279 members statewide, 104,100 in the 1st Congressional district, 81,179 in the 2nd CD, and anywhere from 3,770 to 7,337 in each legislative district. Compare those numbers to the vote in the last non-presidential primary election, in 2006, when there were 184,456 votes cast statewide, and many legislative districts saw turnout that fell well below the current number of AARP members in the district - Examples: District 1 now has 7,337 AARP members, and in the 2006 contested race for state Senate there, just 4,748 people voted. District 21 now has 5,500 AARP members, according to the group; in 2006, 4,554 people cast votes in that district.

David Irwin, Idaho AARP spokesman, estimates that three of every 10 Idaho primary voters likely will be AARP members. “One thing is for sure, AARP members will be a force at the ballot box,” he said in a statement.

Time to vote…

Today is Idaho’s primary election - and it’s the final election for an array of non-partisan judicial races, including a contested seat on the Idaho Supreme Court. Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Today’s election determines the party nominees for offices ranging from Congress and governor to legislator and county commissioner, but turnout is expected to be low - so your vote today really counts.

Here are links to my profiles of some of the races: Governor, 1st Congressional District, Idaho Supreme Court and North Idaho legislative races. Here’s a link to the Secretary of State’s list of primary candidates, with links to the candidates’ websites. And here’s a link to the state’s official voter information page on registration, (you can register at the polls if you’re not already registered), access and procedures.
 

VanderSloot: ‘I’m sure we’ll be beat up on mercilessly’

Here’s a link to my full story on the last-minute campaign attack launched over the weekend against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. The entire $38,000 effort was funded by Melaleuca Inc., the Idaho Falls personal-care products firm headed by eastern Idaho conservative activist Frank VanderSloot. VanderSloot told Eye on Boise that he was “embarrassed” that the proper disclosure paperwork wasn’t filed by two PACs that handled the effort. A major funder of numerous political campaigns, who four years ago helped defeat a sitting judge in his eastern Idaho district after he was unhappy with the judge’s behavior in a case involving his firm, VanderSloot said, “We’ve taken a role over the last 10 years or so, but we’ve always done it in the open. … I’m embarrassed I gave my money to someplace that hadn’t done the paperwork right.”

VanderSloot said so far this calendar year, he and his wife, Belinda, have made $70,800 in political contributions, including $60,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee on May 17. Meanwhile, through Melaleuca, he’s donated $54,750 to various Idaho campaigns and PACs, plus another $29,500 to the Committee to Elect Meg Whitman, a Republican candidate for governor of California. VanderSloot said he’s done much of his campaign spending from his company, rather than personally, because of limits on campaign contributions from individuals to candidates, and because he believes businesses and corporations have a right to participate in the political sphere. “Now it’s not popular to do, and I’m sure we’ll be beat up on mercilessly,” VanderSloot said. “That doesn’t bother me. … I think it’s incumbent upon us to do things legally and ethically and honestly, and let the chips fall where they will.”

All the money trails lead to VanderSloot

The group “Idaho Citizens for Justice” has now filed its overdue campaign finance report, and it shows that the group received $38,000 - half from Melaleuca Inc. and half from “Citizens for Commonsense” in Idaho Falls - for its last-minute campaign against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. “Citizens for Common Sense Solutions,” in turn, is a PAC whose own campaign finance report - also just filed this afternoon, a week after the deadline - shows it received $19,000 in donations, all from Melaleuca - meaning the personal-care products firm owned by Idaho Falls conservative activist Frank VanderSloot is the sole funder of both groups. You can read the Citizens for Justice finance report here, and the Citizens for Common Sense Solutions finance report here.

Jonathan Haines, chairman of the Citizens for Justice group, said he used to work for Melaleuca, but now does marketing and consulting work in Idaho Falls, where he has lived since 2008. Haines said the group has spent its entire $38,000 in contributions on newspaper ads in Boise, Twin Falls and Idaho Falls, sending a statewide mailer, and running radio ads in Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Twin Falls, American Falls, Boise and elsewhere, all targeting Bradbury and touting Burdick. “I didn’t mean to do anything outside of the law, I didn’t mean to do anything that wasn’t kosher,” said Haines, who said he thought he’d filed the required paperwork. “It’s a shame there was a glitch with the paperwork, but the end goal was basically to help educate the electorate and to make them informed, so they can make the informed decision on which judge they can support.”

Unregistered group spent $28K against Bradbury, for Burdick in the past two weeks

The unregistered political group “Idaho Citizens for Justice” has now filed an independent expenditure report with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office showing it’s spent $28,000 in the past two weeks against Judge John Bradbury and in favor of Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick, whom Bradbury is challenging. “They still didn’t file the C1 and the PAC report yet,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst. “We called them about that. They said they’ll be getting that in. But that one will list where the money came from.”

Meanwhile, Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca Inc. in Idaho Falls, told Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey that he gave $19,000 to the PAC because he feared Bradbury would outspend Burdick (actually, according to campaign finance reports, it’s Burdick who has the bigger campaign warchest for tomorrow’s election). You can read Popkey’s report here.

Candidate clarifies business history

Tamara Wells, a hairdresser from Post Falls who is running in tomorrow’s GOP primary for governor, now says she hasn’t owned her prosthetic wig shop in Hayden, “Tamara’s,” for 41 years, as she told me last week and as I reported in my Sunday column. “I have been in business for 41 years, and I’ve been here 15 years owning and operating my own business, but I’ve rented space,” Wells told Eye on Boise today. She said she purchased the building for her business in Hayden six years ago, and before that rented space in other salons. Earlier, she was in southern California.

Head of campaign group identified

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has determined that Jonathan Haines of Idaho Falls, a former employee of Melaleuca Inc., is the chairman of “Idaho Citizens for Justice,” an unregistered group that launched a campaign attack against an Idaho Supreme Court candidate over the weekend. “They’re going to have a report in by noon today,” reported Tim Hurst, chief deputy secretary of state. “He said he’d get the reports in today. … So then we’ll determine what we’re going to do.” The group faces possible fines of up to $50 a day for not filing with the state, plus additional civil penalties; political action committees that raise and spend $500 or more are required to register with the state, disclose their sources of funding, and report all last-minute contributions in the run-up to the election within 48 hours.

Unregistered group launches campaign attack in Idaho Supreme Court race

A group calling itself “Idaho Citizens for Justice” sent out full-color mailings and placed large newspaper advertisements over the weekend touting Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick and criticizing his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, but the group hasn’t registered with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office as a political committee or independent campaign, nor has it reported its sources of funding; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. The group’s ads list a Misty Cooper as its treasurer and its mailings list a post office box in Idaho Falls as its headquarters; but at the bottom of its ads, which reproduce a portion of an Idaho State Bar member survey in which members ranked the two high court candidates, the ads say, “For more information contact Dan Black,” and list Black’s phone number and email address at the Idaho State Bar; Black is the communications director for the Idaho State Bar.

“I was surprised to see my name on an ad this weekend in the Idaho Statesman,” Black said this morning. “Of course I gave no permission and no permission was requested to utilize my name.” He noted, “The Idaho State Bar does not make endorsements.” Black noted that an Idaho State Bar press release on the member survey several weeks ago included his contact information; he guessed that the “Citizens for Justice” group just lifted his information along with the survey results. “I am a little concerned,” Black said. “I don’t think it was probably on purpose or nefarious or malicious. I think it was maybe a little lazy, you know, basically to just read their copy a little more carefully.”

The full-color mailer sent out by the group doesn’t include Black’s name or contact information, though it includes the same section from the bar survey results. The group also has new website and a Facebook page, established on May 12, which criticizes Bradbury for comments about abortion in a 1992 legislative campaign and says he has a “troublesome record on law and order issues,” while touting Burdick as a “supporter of open government and a free press;” it lists descriptions of cases and legal citations, including six cases in which Bradbury’s district court rulings were overturned on appeal.

The mailer and newspaper ad both call Bradbury “a very wealthy liberal judge” and note that he funded his own campaign for the high court two years ago. However, this time around, both candidates are accepting campaign contributions, and Burdick has a substantial fundraising edge. Bradbury has raised $59,789, according to his campaign finance report, including $32,600 of his own money, with the rest coming mostly from individuals. Burdick has raised $80,378, according to his report, including contributions from individuals, law firms and PACs.

Burdick said this morning he was unaware of the “Citizens for Justice” group. “I have no idea who or what is going on, absolutely none,” he said. “And nobody in my campaign has worked with that group, I can guarantee you.”

Bradbury said, “Those ads are disgusting. … Not only are they untrue personal attacks, but they’re illegal personal attacks, and if that’s the kind of justice they want on the Supreme Court, they oughta vote for Burdick.”  Bradbury said, “It’s exactly what I expected - I expected personal attacks instead of discussion of the issues. … That’s exactly the kind of campaign they ran against (then-Justice) Cathy Silak when (current Chief Justice Dan) Eismann won.”

He also disputed the claims in the ads. “I’ve been reversed six times, that’s true - but out of how many?” he said. “I think my appellate rate is probably about 90 percent. … I have a lot of trials, judges have trials and have appeals. … I’m proud of what I’ve done. In four of those six cases I was probably right, it’s a matter of opinion - they have the last say.”

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office was scrambling this morning to find out who’s behind the group, which could face fines of up to $50 per day plus civil penalties. “If they’re specifically designated to support or oppose a candidate or measure, then they’re required to become a political committee,” said Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst, if they receive contributions and make expenditures exceeding $500. State law also requires notice to be filed within 48 hours of an independent campaign expenditure. “We’re trying to find out who and what they are,” Hurst said.” Bradbury said he’s heard radio ads sponsored by the group airing in eastern Idaho for the past several weeks.
 

Poll: Ward, Labrador in dead heat in 1st CD

The Idaho Statesman and KBOI TV Channel 2 have commissioned a statewide poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, a national polling company based in Washington, D.C., in advance of Tuesday’s primary election, and the results are darn interesting. In the 1st District congressional race, among likely voters in Idaho’s Republican primary in the district, the poll found 31 percent favoring Vaughn Ward, 28 percent for Raul Labrador, 37 percent undecided and 4 percent for Harley Brown. That’s a statistical dead heat - the difference between Ward and Labrador falls within the poll’s margin of error. You can read the Statesman’s full coverage of the poll here.

In the governor’s race, the poll showed Gov. Butch Otter with 60 percent, 25 percent undecided, and none of the five GOP challengers rising beyond single digits, with Rex Rammell highest at 6 percent followed by Sharon Ullman at 4 percent (my column taking a look at the primary race for governor runs in Sunday’s paper; you can read it here). In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Mike Simpson was at 62 percent, undecided 23 percent, and challengers in single digits. The poll showed the contested Supreme Court race also in a dead heat, at least among Republican primary voters (it’s a non-partisan race); incumbent Roger Burdick had 24 percent, challenger John Bradbury 20 percent, and 56 percent were undecided.

Ward: ‘She didn’t benefit from coming here’

After the Sarah Palin rally, candidate Vaughn Ward was surrounded by supporters, well-wishers, a few folks who wanted to argue politics, and a lot of youngsters who wanted autographs on signs and brochures and a picture with the candidate. Ward said he was thrilled with the turnout. “We only had about 48 hours to put it together,” he said. “People were excited.” He said of Palin, “She’s an Idaho girl, she’s probably one of Idaho’s most famous daughters, and Idaho people get excited about that.”

Dennis Mansfield, spokesman for the campaign of Ward’s GOP primary opponent, Raul Labrador, said,  “Idaho was honored to have Sarah Palin come to the capital city of Boise today. She came for the wrong candidate, though.”

Of the 1,500 to 2,000 people in the arena for the rally, about half were in floor seats that cost $10 a head, while the others filled free seats on risers along the side. Money raised by the event, including $250 tickets to a VIP reception beforehand and $1,000 apiece for those who wanted their photos taken with Palin - at least 50 lined up for the privilege - went to the Ward campaign. The campaign said Palin didn’t charge a speaking fee and instead made a donation to the campaign, and the $10 tickets went to cover the cost of the event. “She didn’t benefit from coming here,” Ward said after the rally. “She benefited from trying to help out a candidate she believes in.”

Wisconsin candidate cribbed website passages

A Wisconsin GOP congressional candidate, Chad Lee, from whose campaign website Idaho congressional candidate Vaughn Ward had borrowed word-for-word an issue position statement on jobs that Ward removed from his site last week after the similarities were reported, has now acknowledged that Lee staffers lifted entire passages on his site on immigration, the economy, taxes and more from the websites of two sitting Wisconsin GOP congressmen, Reps. Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy. WISC-TV in Madison reported that representatives for the Ryan and Duffy campaigns said everything on their sites was written by them and was not taken from outside sources or the Republican Party. Among Lee’s passages borrowed from Ryan was one about an immigration bill Ryan had introduced, suggesting that Lee, too, had introduced such a bill; Lee’s not an incumbent.

Ward had a similar claim in his now-pulled issue statement on trade, in which he referred to “my roadmap legislation.” That’s actually Wisconsin Rep. Ryan’s sweeping “Roadmap for America’s Future” legislation, versions of which Ryan proposed both in 2008 and again this year. Ward now has no issue position statements on his campaign website, while Lee has replaced two of his with notes that the page is under construction; you can see the Wisconsin TV station’s report here.

Charges fly in high court race

As Tuesday’s election approaches, charges are flying in the non-partisan contested race for the Idaho Supreme Court. Justice Roger Burdick issued a press release ripping his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, for four decisions in criminal matters that were reversed on appeal, saying, “If the appellate courts had adopted Bradbury’s view of the law, Idaho’s death row would have been essentially emptied after 2003 and none of more than a dozen death row inmates could have been resentenced to death.” Bradbury issued a press release blasting Burdick for comments in a debate that Bradbury contends went too far in addressing a water issue that will come before the Supreme Court, saying, “Justice Burdick may very well have exposed himself to disqualification on the very issues that he is trying to use to ride to another term.” Also, current Chief Justice Dan Eismann issued a statement critical of claims made in two Bradbury campaign ads.

The Burdick-Bradbury race is the only contested race for Idaho’s highest court his year; Justice Jim Jones is unopposed for re-election.

Palin bashes media, rallies crowd for Ward

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had harsh words for the “lamestream media” and the liberal left as gave an enthusiastic speech rallying voters for GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward in Boise today. “The left and some of the lamestream media, they can really play dirty sometimes, trust me on this one, I know this one,” Palin told a crowd of about 1,500 at the Qwest Arena in downtown Boise, who punctuated her speech with applause and cheers but remained seated until its end. Ward, who headed the McCain-Palin presidential campaign in Nevada in 2008, is facing state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in Idaho’s primary election on Tuesday for a chance to challenge freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Palin: ‘You can keep the change’

“I like those bumper stickers that say, ‘You can keep the change,’” Sarah Palin told the crowd in Boise. She called Vaughn Ward “the real deal,” saying he’s pro-gun and pro-life. “Vaughn has been courageous enough to serve our country and fight for you, fight for all Americans, serving in the Iraq war,” she said. “Those are the qualities we need in leaders today who like Vaughn can go to Washington and take back a majority for common-sense conservatives, who understand the constitution, and they understand that freedom isn’t free, freedom is a God-given right and is worth fighting for.” That won Palin a loud cheer and round of applause.

Next speaker at Ward-Palin rally: Luna

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna is the next speaker at the Ward-Palin rally, starting by talking about the importance of education. Then he said, “Folks, if we’re going to keep the promise to the rising generation, then we have to put an end to the insanity in Washington, D.C. … We must hold all politicians accountable and we must hold all political parties accountable.” He garnered cheers and applause.

McGee takes podium to start rally

The Ward campaign is estimating there are 1,500 people at the rally, which is starting now with state Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, taking the podium. “Canyon County is Vaughn Ward country,” he declared; Canyon County is where McGee is from, though the rally is taking place in Boise, which is in Ada County. “This is the most Republican state in the union and it’s time to send a Republican back to represent us in the 1st Congressional District,” McGee said; he then introduced former Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa to lead the pledge of allegiance, which was followed by an invocation.


Between 1,000 and 1,100 in arena

There now appear to be nearly 400 people sitting in the free seats in the risers around the floor of the Qwest Arena for the Sarah Palin-Vaughn Ward rally, and another 650 or so in the $10 seats on the floor, for a total of between 1,000 and 1,100. The word is that both Ward and Palin are now in the building; the band just led a Ward sign-waving chorus to the lyrics, “Go Vaughn Ward,” and then wrapped up.

‘We want it to be values-based’

There appear to be about 750 seats set up on the floor of the Qwest Arena for the Sarah Palin-Vaughn Ward rally, and so far roughly half have filled up. In the free seats on the risers at the sides a little over 100 people are seated so far. Outside, people filing in included Linn and George Pitt of Garden City; “We’re big admirers of Sarah Palin,” she said, to which her husband added, “We’re undecided on Ward vs. Labrador, so we want to hear him some more.” Glancing at her husband, Linn said, “I’m going to vote for Vaughn Ward.”

George said he’s a U.S. Marines veteran - like Ward - but said that’s not enough to sway his decision. “We’re very conservative, and we want to make sure we’re voting for someone who shares our values,” he said. Said Linn, “We think it’s very important to take District 1 back to the Republican side. We want it to be values-based.”

Seventeen-year-old cousins Ryan and Jared Hand said they’re Democrats, but they want to hear the other side, “just sort of to realize what you’re up against,” Ryan said. Asked if they came to see Ward or Palin, Jared said, “Sarah Palin, she brought us out, oh yeah, you know it.”

Evelyn Wood of Twin Falls traveled the two hours to Boise just for the rally. “We just saw it on TV and decided we wanted to come,” she said. “I’m quite interested in her. I read her book.” Sarah Benedict brought her young daughter and a friend who pushed a bright-eyed baby in a stroller, but they weren’t headed into the rally. “We actually came to protest,” Benedict said. “Everybody’s here to see Sarah Palin - I’m not a real big fan of hers.”

Upstairs at the Sports Zone, state Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden, leaned out the window and reported that he was near the front of a line of about 50 people waiting for photos with Palin, a privilege that’ll cost them $1,000 a head.

People filtering in for Palin rally

People are filtering in slowly for the Sarah Palin rally for Vaughn Ward’s campaign this morning; here’s a shot of the line outside just as the doors opened. Inside, a photo slide show of pictures of Ward is playing on the big screen and the band High Street, in its distinctive zoot suits, is setting up onstage.

Free tickets offered for Palin event

Vaughn Ward’s campaign has announced that free tickets will be available for the Sarah Palin rally this morning for an additional level of seating, and can be picked up in person starting at 9 a.m. at Qwest Arena. In addition, $10 tickets for floor seats for the event still are available through the Qwest Arena box office; children 18 and under are free. Doors open at 9 a.m. for the 11 a.m. rally; for $250 per person, Palin fans can attend a VIP reception in the SportsZone of the arena at 10 a.m.; or, for $1,000 per person, they can get a photo opportunity with the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. The money goes to Ward’s congressional campaign; he faces state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in the GOP primary on Tuesday for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat, now held by freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick.

Of civics and U.S. territories…

At a debate in Post Falls this week between GOP congressional candidates Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador, a Pachyderm Club audience member asked both candidates whether they supported statehood for Puerto Rico. Labrador, who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, a United States territory,  responded that he didn’t think now was the time. Ward said, “The problem with extending statehood to some, to any other country, is it then the infrastructure requirements. … It is not time to grow the United States, not today, not tomorrow. I don’t see a time when we would. We’re 50 states, I want to stay at that. Let’s focus on America first.”

Labrador responded, “I just need to correct, Puerto Rico is not a country, Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States. It’s about time that we took some civics lesson and we learn what Puerto Rico is.” To that, Ward responded, “I really don’t care what it is, I mean it doesn’t matter.” To that, Labrador said, “Obviously you don’t.” You can watch the exchange on YouTube here.

It’s generating quite a bit of buzz on the S-R’s “Huckleberries Online” blog today, where an online poll found overwhelming numbers of readers think Ward’s comments matter in the race. Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States acquired in 1898; people born there are U.S. citizens, residents of the commonwealth vote in presidential primaries though not in the general election for president, and their head of state is the president of the United States. Other territories of the United States include the Midway Islands, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam.

AARP member survey: Idaho seniors lack confidence in lawmakers

The Idaho AARP reports that its latest member survey finds that 85 percent have little to no confidence in Idaho state legislators to take on the issues most important to them, and that the top three issues the seniors want addressed are resolving state budget problems (72%), amending this year’s “conscience” law to ensure health care workers honor living wills and advance directives (61%), and removing the influence of large special-interest campaign contributions (55%). In addition, 46 percent want to hear how candidates would restore cuts to education funding. “The low public confidence in state lawmakers is very alarming– it’s not good for anyone in Idaho, businesses, retirees and especially those elected to serve in office,” said Jim Wordelman, state director for AARP in Idaho.

The “Idaho Election Pulse Survey of 50-Plus Voters” was taken between April 28 and May 17 by email, and received 431 responses. You can read AARP’s press release here, and see the survey results here.

Ward announces details of Palin event

Congressional candidate Vaughn Ward has announced the details of the political rally he’s hosting featuring Sarah Palin this Friday; it’ll start at 11 a.m. at Qwest Arena in downtown Boise, and cost $10 a head, with children under 18 free. Or, for $250 per person, Palin fans can attend a VIP reception in the SportsZone of the arena at 10 a.m.; or, for $1,000 per person, they can get a photo opportunity with the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. Click here to see Ward’s flier about the event.

Gov. Otter’s GOP challengers blast him at debate that he skipped

Two of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s primary election challengers lashed out at him during a statewide debate Tuesday night, while Otter declined to participate in the matchup that aired live statewide on Idaho Public Television. “I’d like to ask him why he thinks he’s above having his ideas challenged by the public,” said GOP challenger Rex Rammell, a veterinarian from Rexburg. “Isn’t it the responsibility of the top elected official of the state of Idaho to let the people know what your ideas are? … Why didn’t you show up for this?”

Sharon Ullman, a Republican Ada County commissioner, said she wished she could’ve asked Otter if he’ll really serve a full four-year term if he’s re-elected. “There’s a strong rumor going around that he plans to … step down and let the lieutenant governor become governor,” she declared. Rammell and Ullman bashed Otter for proposing a gas tax increase in 2009; for failing to attract more jobs to the state; for proposing increasing counties’ costs for indigent health care; and for not being hostile enough to the federal government; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and click below for some tidbits from the debate that didn’t make it into my story.

Candidates for Gov debate tonight

Tonight’s debate in the race for governor will feature GOP challengers Rex Rammell and Sharon Ullman (shown above center, the first to arrive for tonight’s debate), but not incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, who declined to participate. In a statement today from his campaign, Otter repeated his contention that the debate should have invited all candidates, including those not actively campaigning for the post. He also said, “I met some of my primary opponents at Lincoln Day events around the state in recent months. Each of us had ample opportunity to get voters acquainted with our issues and priorities.”

Otter likely will be the target of his rivals tonight, and due to his absence won’t be able to respond to their digs; the debate starts at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific, and will air live statewide on Idaho Public Television. The public can attend; 130 seats are available to the public in the Capitol Auditorium on a first-come, first-served basis, and the doors open at 7 p.m. Boise time. It’s the last of the “Idaho Debates” for Idaho’s May 25 primary election, but there’ll be a full slate again in the fall for the general election. The “Idaho Debates” are sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the Idaho League of Women Voters, and co-sponsored by The Associated Press, Boise State Radio, Idaho Allied Dailies, Idaho State Broadcasters Association, The Idaho Statesman, KIVI-TV and KBOI-TV; they can be viewed online at www.idahoptv.org.

Allred outraises Otter

The gubernatorial debate is tonight, for the candidates in the contested GOP primary, and there’s some news in the race today: In the most recent quarter, Democratic candidate Keith Allred out-raised incumbent GOP Gov. Butch Otter. According to campaign finance reports filed today, Otter raised $193,339 in contributions from Jan. 1 to May 9, while Allred raised $241,278 in the same time period. Allred said in a news release that 90 percent of his contributions came from Idahoans and that he set a fundraising record for Democratic candidates for governor. “I’m particularly gratified at how many contributors we have from within Idaho,” Allred said. “People from all across the state are saying they support our goal to make Idaho government by, for and of the people.”

Otter, in his own campaign news release, said “thousands of people are stepping forward” to help his re-election campaign. His campaign manager, Debbie Field, said, “That reflects the compelling message that our campaign is able to deliver to voters throughout our state, and the hard work and dedication of our campaign staff and local volunteers in each of Idaho’s 44 counties.”

Among other candidates, Republican Rex Rammell reported raising $55,981 during the fundraising period and spending $43,219, including $1,000 for a giant, green inflatable T-Rex he’s using as a campaign prop; and Republican Sharon Ullman reported raising just $2,333 in the fundraising period, including $1,878 that she donated to her own campaign. Democrat Lee Chaney reported raising $2,100, more than half of it his own money; anti-abortion activist Walter Bayes reported no contributions but putting $22,000 of his own money into his campaign, of which he’s spent $20,610; and wig shop owner Tamara Wells of Post Falls reported no contributions, but spending $2,044 of her own money. Amateur comedian Ron “Pete” Peterson hadn’t filed a report as of today’s deadline.