Latest from The Spokesman-Review
Quarterly campaign finance reports are in at the Federal Election Commission, and the figures for the 1st Congressional District show this: Incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick has raised $1.5 million to date for his re-election bid, including $231,917 this quarter. He’s spent $641,879, including $159,504 this quarter, and has $889,082 cash on hand.
On the GOP side, Vaughn Ward has raised $504,258, including $167,611 this quarter. He’s spent $213,761, including $81,699 this quarter, and has $289,844 cash on hand. He also loaned his campaign $14,199, but made no loans this quarter. Raul Labrador has raised $158,903, including $90,000 in loans from the candidate to his campaign ($40,000 of that in the most recent quarter - however, that’s somewhat of a wash since he also repaid $40,000 in loans to himself during the same quarter, leaving an outstanding loan balance of $50,000); his fundraising drew $35,763 in contributions this quarter; and he has $83,527 cash on hand. There were no reports from the other GOP candidates on the ballot, Harley Brown, Michael Chadwick, and Allan Salzberg.
The first TV campaign commercial of Idaho’s primary season is out, from congressional candidate Vaughn Ward, featuring him driving and leaning against a big Dodge pickup truck, talking core values. It’s not actually his truck, it’s a supporter’s. Ward’s campaign said the GOP candidate owns and drives a Ford truck, but it was white and the color didn’t work on camera, so the commercial used the supporter’s grey Dodge. Ward faces state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, and three other candidates in the primary race for a shot at challenging Democratic 1st District Congressman Walt Minnick. So far, Ward’s been the leader in fundraising on the GOP side, and his campaign spokesman, Ryan O’Barto, said the new commercial is the first of several that will run from now through the May 25 election. The ad started running in the Boise market this week, and will run in the Spokane and Lewiston markets in the coming weeks.
You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and see Ward’s TV ad here.
Phil Batt wasn’t Idaho’s flashiest governor, but the onion farmer from Wilder was one of its most respected, both for his fiscal restraint and his political vision. So when Batt, now 83, stepped away from his retirement on Tuesday to endorse Vaughn Ward in an Idaho GOP congressional primary race, it resounded. “I think the governor understands the gravity of the situation, with trying to take back this seat,” said Ward, who faces Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, and three other Republicans in the GOP primary race for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat - which now is held by conservative Democrat Walt Minnick.
When Batt was chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, he rebuilt it from a low point at which Idaho’s state Senate was split 21-21 between Republicans and Democrats into the powerhouse it stands today, controlling every statewide elective office, three of four seats in the congressional delegation and two-thirds of the Legislature. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt today endorsed Vaughn Ward in the GOP primary race for the 1st District congressional seat, joining a group of GOP Canyon County elected officials in taking sides in the hotly contested Republican primary race. “I think he’s a better-qualified candidate, a deeper thinker, a harder worker,” Batt said of Ward, who’s facing off with state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in the primary contest. That means Ward now has two former Idaho governors - Batt and former GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne - on his side in the race.
Batt said he’s not particularly displeased with the performance of the current 1st District congressman, conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat Walt Minnick. But he said his biggest concern is the fiscal state of the nation, and though he faults both parties for the state of affairs, he’s become convinced the best fix is to remove the current Democratic presidential administration, and that the first step toward that is returning control of Congress to Republicans in the 2010 election. Batt, 83, said, “The elections are fast approaching, and it’s time for us to get off the fences and get involved - and that’s what I’m doing.” He said, “I’m concerned we’re headed to the financial precipice,” and called Ward “a fiscal conservative who will turn off this disgraceful federal money spout that is heading us into bankruptcy.”
Batt, who was known as “Governor Tightwad” for his penny-pinching as governor, said the state’s still in better shape now because he reduced the number of state employees when he was in office from 1994-1998. He said when lawmakers made sharp cuts in the state budget this year, “I don’t think they had any choice. They may have been a little ham-handed at times. … I think they did the right thing.” He said, “Those sales tax exemptions are going to be on the table one of these days. I think they were right to put it off.” He said he’s still disappointed, however, that the Legislature didn’t address Gov. Butch Otter’s call in the past few years to step up highway maintenance funding. “There’s gonna be a day of reckoning on that,” Batt said.
Here’s a link to my full story in today’s Spokesman-Review on Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s top billing at the Tea Party of Spokane first-anniversary celebration and rally this Thursday. “He was happy as a clam – he was just absolutely stoked,” said Kirk Smith, vice president and spokesman for Tea Party of Spokane, on Otter’s reaction to the invite.
Otter’s primary election opponents had varying responses. Rex Rammell, who’s been on national TV twice in the last three weeks talking about his support for the militia movement, accused Otter of trying to steal his platform. “Now that he’s up for re-election, he’s Mr. States’ Rights,” Rammell said. Sharon Ullman, an Ada County commissioner, said, “He’s certainly welcome to go do whatever he wants,” adding with a laugh that the speaking gig means Otter won’t be campaigning in Idaho that afternoon.
Otter campaign manager Debbie Field told the Associated Press that Gov. Butch Otter is confident the federal-court legal challenge to health care reform is the best course for the state and the 17 others that have joined the lawsuit. Challenging the federal requirement that the uninsured buy coverage or face penalties also has the backing of the state’s Republican dominated Legislature.
“He knows exactly what he’s doing,” Field said at the end of a campaign kickoff tour Wednesday that included stops in Post Falls, Lewiston and Caldwell. “And the governor is widely supported on the idea that Idahoans should be in charge of health reform.” Otter’s announcement tour continues on Thursday, with stops including a 9 a.m. appearance on the state Capitol steps, plus stops in Twin Falls, Rexburg and Idaho Falls. Click below to read a full report from AP reporter Todd Dvorak.
Keith Allred, Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, today said he has a different plan from current GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s lawsuit challenging federal health care reform: He said if elected governor, he’d take advantage of a clause in the new law that lets states “opt out” of the plan if they enact their own health-care reform plans. “Every year, more Idahoans don’t have access to health care and virtually all Idahoans pay more for it,” Allred said. “Whether we’re Republican, Democrat or independent, most of us agree that we just can’t keep going down the same path.”
Allred didn’t release details of such a plan or its financing mechanism, but he provided these details about the state waiver in the federal health care reform law:
* It was inserted into the federal bill by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.
* It allows for states to waive the individual mandate to buy health care.
* It allows for the creation of a voucher system that allows people to choose their own insurance.
“In Idaho, we have a strong tradition of taking our destiny into our own hands,” said Allred, a former nonpartisan citizen activist, mediator and former Harvard professor, who unveiled his idea at a news conference today at the state Capitol’s auditorium. “With the leadership of Governor Kempthorne, we chose to solve our water problems ourselves rather than have a solution imposed on us by judges in the Snake River Basin Adjudication. With the leadership of Governor Risch, we chose to get out from under the federal roadless rule by crafting our own. In the 2010 election, we will choose a governor to work on our health care challenges. This is a real choice. Governor Otter will entrust the job to federal judges. I won’t. I’ll honor our tradition of taking our destiny into our own hands by offering the leadership needed to implement a state solution. That is the path more likely to control the costs and increase the accessibility of health care.” You can read Allred’s full statement here.
Steve Tucker has a new challenger in the race for Spokane County prosecutor.
Chris Bugbee, a 42-year-old Republican who worked six years as a deputy prosecutor, has announced his bid to unseat his former boss.
He joins fellow Republican David Stevens and Democrat Frank Malone in what is now a four-way race for the position.
“I think the office needs a real leader,” Bugbee said in reference to his former boss. “I don’t think Mr. Stevens is an appropriate candidate. I think he has demonstrated some questionable judgment. I fear that if he is going to be making those decisions as elected prosecutor, the consequences to the public will be even bigger.”
Read the rest of Thomas Clouse’s story here.
A candidate for Spokane County prosecutor has accepted a $500 campaign contribution from the wife of a man being prosecuted by the office he wants to oversee.
Records show that Republican prosecuting attorney candidate Dave Stevens accepted the donation in February and has kept the money despite knowing that the contributor’s husband, David Elton (left), faces three counts of felony harassment.
David Elton wrote in an e-mail in February that he would “donate as much as he could afford” to Stevens’ campaign. Documents from the state Public Disclosure Commission show that Elton’s wife, Belinda Elton, contributed $500 in February.
Read the rest of Jonathan Brunt’s story here.
Elton, 44, is accused of making threats in e-mail messages to his ex-wife, Robin Stewart, Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles and Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan. Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy is seeking a bench warrant for Elton, alleging he’s failed to notify Nagy on several occasions that he’s leaving town 48 hours in advance as required by a court order.
Judge Maryann Moreno is set to hear that motion on April 15.
Mark Vovos withdrew as Elton’s lawyer late last month. Elton has said he may represent himself.
Predictably, the campaign spokesmen for Gov. Butch Otter and for Democratic challenger Keith Allred have different takes on the recent Rasmussen poll results, which show Otter with a big lead. Debbie Field, Otter’s campaign manager, says in a news release, “Idahoans know that Butch is doing a great job for the Gem State” despite recent suggestions his approval ratings are slipping. “Our Governor has had to make some of the toughest decisions ever facing Idaho,” Field said. “The Idaho Constitution says he has to balance the budget. That’s easy to do when the economy is in good shape, but our national economy has affected every decision made by the Governor and the Idaho Legislature.”
Allred campaign spokesman Shea Andersen said, “I can’t say I’m surprised that in late March a robo-poll might pick up opposition to a Democratic opponent to Butch Otter. I don’t consider it much of a reflection on Keith and his candidacy as I do maybe on the label.” Andersen said Allred is out campaigning around the state, and people who listen to him like what he says, even if they might have been suspicious at first about a Democrat. “It’s March, and we have a long way to go,” he said.
More than two dozen last-minute candidates filed for the state Legislature today, just at the end of the filing period. The rush delayed the final posting of the full list of candidates; you can now see the full list here at the Idaho Secretary of State’s Web site. Among lawmakers picking up last-minute challengers: Rep. Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d’Alene, who will face Democrat Mike Bullard of Coeur d’Alene; Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, who has two GOP primary challengers; Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, who picked up a primary challenger in addition to his Democratic opponent; Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, who now has two GOP challengers vying in the May primary; and Rep. Pat Takasugi, R-Wilder, who drew two Democratic challengers.
Sen. Melinda Smyser drew a Democratic challenger, Shannon Forrester of Caldwell; Rep. Bob Schaefer, R-Nampa, will face Democrat Maria Mabbutt; and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, will face Democrat William J. Young in November. Rep. Max Black, R-Boise, has drawn a primary challenger, Mark Patterson; Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, will face Republican Bill Eisenbarth; and Sen. Eliot Werk, D-Boise, drew two Republican challengers, Lucas Baumbach and T. Allen Hoover.
Republican Mitch Toryanski of Boise jumped into the District 18 Senate race - that’s the one where Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, isn’t seeking re-election, and Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, is runing for her seat, as are, now, three Republicans. Also in District 18, Durst’s current seat has one Democrat, Janie Ward-Engelking, and two Republicans, former Rep. Julie Ellsworth and Gregory E. Ferch, in the running. Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, has drawn two Republican challengers, Trevor Grigg and Becky Young. Rep. Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, now has two primary challengers, Thomas E. Dayley and Roger Koyle of Boise, along with Democratic challenger Sean Carrick of Kuna.
Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, drew a challenge from Democrat Scott McClure of Jerome; Rep. Jim Marriott, R-Blackfoot, will be challenged by Democrat Mark Gabrylczyk; and Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, drew a last-minute Democratic challenger, Neil M. Williams of Idaho Falls.
Asked for response to Bill Sali’s put-down today - when Sali said, “Sending Vaughn Ward to Washington, D.C. is a little bit like sending a boy scout to Iraq. He doesn’t have any experience casting tough votes” - Ward’s campaign had no comment. “Idaho Republicans are ready for new leadership, the kind of fiscally conservative, common-sense approach that Vaughn Ward will bring to Congress,” said Ward campaign spokesman Ryan O’Barto. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com on former Congressman Sali’s reappearance in Idaho politics today, testifying against child immunizations at a state House committee he once chaired and hinting he might run for office again himself, then, instead, endorsing Republican Raul Labrador in the GOP primary race for the 1st District congressional seat he once held; Ward also is seeking that seat.
Among those who’ve filed for to run for the Legislature so far today - the last day of the filing period - are former GOP state Sen. Dean Sorensen of Boise, who filed again for the District 18 Senate seat after losing two years ago to Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise; and two Democrats running for the House seat now held by Rep. Anne Pasley-Stuart, D-Boise: Cherie Buckner-Webb and J. Dallas Gudgell. We’re up to 10 candidates running for governor; eight for the 1st District congressional seat; five for the 2nd District; and four for the U.S. Senate. The filing period closes at 5 p.m.; you can see the full list here of congressional, statewide, judicial and legislative candidates.
Former Congressman Bill Sali said he does have something to file with the Secretary of State’s office today, but it’s not a candidacy filing, it’s formation papers for a new nonprofit. Sali said it will be called “Preserving America’s Legacy,” and will distribute books, CDs and DVDs about the founding fathers to “anybody who wants to learn about the legacy of this country.” He said his wife likely will take a major role in running the group; he’s just getting it started and getting a board together.
Former Congressman Bill Sali has made his announcement - he’s endorsing Raul Labrador in the GOP primary for the 1st District congressional seat, the seat he formerly held. Sali said he didn’t inform Labrador of his decision in advance - he just asked him to be there. Said Labrador, “It is a surprise, but it’s an honor. … I thank him.”
Sali said he decided to endorse Labrador, a second-term Republican state lawmaker from Eagle, because “it takes a person who’s been there, who knows what it’s like to cast a tough vote.” He also said he admired Labrador’s willingness to take on his own party; Labrador was a vocal opponent of GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s unsuccessful transportation funding proposal last year. “Both parties have problems,” Sali said.
Asked his opinion of Vaughn Ward, another leading Republican seeking the 1st District seat - who’s been campaigning hard since last spring and is a decorated veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan - Sali said, “Well, you know, Vaughn has served our country with distinction and we owe him a debt of gratitude for that, there is no way around that, as we do with all of our veterans. But I have to tell you, sending Vaughn Ward to Washington, D.C. is a little bit like sending a boy scout to Iraq. He doesn’t have any experience casting tough votes. He doesn’t have experience in the political realm.”
Former Congressman Bill Sali, who resurfaced at the Statehouse today wearing a suit, proposing wide-ranging amendments to a child-immunization registry bill, and rapidly chewing gum, has an “announcement” scheduled for 11:30 in the Statehouse rotunda on this final day of the filing period for the 2010 elections. Sali said in an e-mail that he “will make an announcement today and answer media questions;” asked what kind of announcement, he said, “show up.”
Oddly, the e-mail suggests that Sali will speak for 12-1/2 hours: “The announcement will begin at 11:30 AM. Statement and questions should conclude by 12:00 AM.” 12:01 a.m. would be a minute after midnight. Technically, neither noon nor midnight is a.m. or p.m. (ante- or post meridiem), but any digital clock will tell you that when the clock flips to noon, it’s 12 p.m.
Reminiscent of his years in the Statehouse as a legislator, Sali was scolded by the acting committee chair in House Health & Welfare today, who at the time was Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, for arguing rather than answering a committee member’s question.
Among the additional candidates filing for office this afternoon are incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who is seeking a full term in office to which he was appointed by Gov. Butch Otter; and “Pro-Life,” the frequent candidate previously known as Marvin Richardson before he legally changed his name to the slogan, who is running for governor as an independent. You can see the full list here.
He’s still made no official announcement, but Gov. Butch Otter today put the speculation to rest over whether he’ll seek a second term: He will. Otter filed his candidacy papers with the Secretary of State’s office today. Also filing today were Republican Vaughn Ward, who’s running in the GOP primary for the 1st Congressional District seat now held by Democrat Walt Minnick; P. Tom Sullivan of Tetonia, a Democrat who filed to run against U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who’s seeking another six-year term; and Republican Steven Dana Pankey of Shoshone, a Republican who filed to challenge incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the primary. You can see the full list here; the candidate filing period runs through March 19.
Also today, Otter announced that his campaign manager will be Debbie Field, who led his 2006 campaign (she’ll take a leave from her post as head of the state Office of Drug Policy); and he named Sheila Olsen of Idaho Falls as his eastern Idaho regional coordinator, and Kendra Waitley of Boise as his finance director; you can read his press release naming the staffers here.
During today’s tribal law enforcement hearing, when Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, asked Clearwater County Commissioner Don Ebert what caused his county’s animosities with the Nez Perce Tribe to dissipate, Ebert mentioned several things, including how a Harvard mediator helped all sides work out tensions over a “jurisdictional alliance” local officials had formed in opposition to the tribe some years back. The mediator: Keith Allred, a former Harvard professor from Twin Falls who is now the Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho.
The latest candidate filings show a slew of new legislative challengers filing in the past day and a half; you can see the full list here. Among them: Rep. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, has drawn two Republican challengers, Mark Goodman and Rusty Satterwhite, both of Twin Falls; Rep. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, has drawn a primary challenger, Marla Lawson of Lowman, and a Democratic challenger, Henry Hibbert of Glenns Ferry; and Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, has drawn a Democratic challenger, Jon Ruggles of Wallace. Meridian School Board Chairman Mike Vuittonet, a Republican, has filed against Sen. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian; Republican Jeff Nesset of Lewiston has filed to run against Rep. Liz Chavez, D-Lewiston; Democrat Melissa Sue Robinson of Nampa has filed against Rep. Gary Collins, R-Nampa; and Republican Dan Loughrey of Boise filed to run against Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise.
There are now three Republicans running for Rep. Jim Clark’s seat in District 3, now that he’s retiring: Vito Barbieri of Dalton Gardens, Fred Meckel of Rathdrum, and Duane Rasmussen of Hayden. And for the seat of Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, a candidate for Congress, two Republicans have filed so far: Nathan Mitchell of Star and Reed deMordaunt of Eagle.
Also filing today: Republican Kathy Sims of Coeur d’Alene, who earlier served briefly in the state Senate, for the seat now held by Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, who is retiring.
Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell had an extensive report in Sunday’s paper about Gov. Butch Otter’s dollar-a-year director of the state Department of Adminstration, Mike Gwartney - also Otter’s best friend - and how his actions have aroused displeasure from state legislators and from an Idaho CEO whose company is suing the state, alleging wrongdoing in a state contract award. You can read Sewell’s full report here. Today, Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred sent out a press release criticizing Otter’s leadership, and calling Gwartney “a crony who’s done nothing but damage Idaho state government.” You can read Allred’s release here.
Another Republican Spokane County officeholder will face a challenge within the party and within his office. But it appears this time the incumbent won’t discipline his challenger.
Vicki Horton, a residential appraiser in the county assessor’s office, filed paperwork this week with the state Public Disclosure Commission indicating that she will challenge her boss, Assessor Ralph Baker, in the August primary.
Last week, Deputy Prosecutor Dave Stevens, a Republican, announced he was challenging his boss, GOP Prosecutor Steve Tucker. Stevens criticized Tucker’s leadership and referred to Tucker as “an absent administrator.” Tucker placed Stevens on paid leave the next day.
Baker confirmed on Tuesday that he plans to run for reelection. When told by a reporter that Horton was running, Baker said: “That’s great.” He added that he was surprised she decided to pursue the office but that he had no reason to discipline her for running. Baker called Horton “a very good employee.”
Horton, who is the union shop steward for the office, said Baker is “a very nice person,” but added: “I have a few things I would like to see different.”
Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dave Stevens should find out more about his employment status this morning when he meets with his boss, Prosecutor Steve Tucker.
Stevens announced this week that he will challenge Tucker in the August primary. Both are Republicans. On Thursday, Tucker said “all options are on the table” when asked if Stevens would be let go. Tucker also promised to follow the deputy prosecutors’ union contract if he takes action against Stevens.
Today’s meeting between the two is the first between the candidates since Stevens announced.
PHOTO CREDIT: Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker in his office May 26.2006. DAN PELLE, The Spokesman-Review.
Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Dave Stevens announced Thursday that he’ll challenge his boss, Prosecutor Steve Tucker, in the August primary.
“Until I came here, I’d never seen a total lack of leadership,” Stevens said in an interview Thursday. “There needs to be a determined leader, not an absent administrator.”
Tucker has filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission indicating that he plans to seek reelection. He did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday afternoon.
This week, Stevens, 47, won an endorsement from the Spokane County Republican Party. Michael Cathcart, an executive board member of the party and Stevens’ campaign manager said Tucker has not yet asked for the endorsement from the party. Cathcart said party rules allow for the endorsement of multiple candidates.
John Ahern’s campaign released this form Wednesday after Bob Apple denied endorsing Ahern. Both Ahern and his campaign manager, Josh Kerns, said they witnessed Apple signing it last year at the county fair.
The top of the form is quite clear: “I endorse John Ahern for State Representative in the 6th District, position 2. By signing below, I give permission to Citizens for Ahern to use my name in campaign materials for the 2010 election. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone outside the campaign. Thank you for your support!”
The campaign blocked other names and Apple’s contact information before releasing the document.
So far, Apple’s opponents in the race are Spokane Indians Baseball Club President Andy Billig and social worker Louise Chadez.
In an interview this morning, Billig said Apple’s endorsement is “surprising,” but that he had no further comment about the issue.
The field of candidates is growing in the race to replace retiring Democratic state Rep. Alex Wood.
Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple confirmed this week that he will compete for Wood’s seat representing the 3rd Legislative District, the most reliably Democratic district in eastern Washington.
Andy Billig, the president of the Spokane Indians baseball, wants to play in a different league. He’s running for the state Legislature in central Spokane’s 3rd District.
As ballots were being cast and counted this week for the 2009 election, Billig filed papers with the state Public Disclosure Commission to run for the state House of Representatives seat currently held by seven-term incumbent Alex Wood. Both are Democrats.