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Lively debates for two lower-profile offices

Lively debates tonight for a couple of lower-profile statewide elected positions, Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor. Here, in this Idaho Public TV photo, Mack Sermon, left, Democratic challenger, speaks; incumbent Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is at right. Sermon championed vote-by-mail, saying Idaho would save “millions,” and called for election reforms. Ysursa said he’s proud of his record, and objected - though only mildly - when Sermon said he thought his current job as a college debate coach was just as complicated as serving as secretary of state. Ysursa said he thought it was important to debate his challenger: “I truly believe that participation is the essence of democracy.”

In the lieutenant governor’s debate, Lt. Gov. Brad Little faced off with Democratic challenger Eldon Wallace, and there were some quick points of agreement. Both said they wouldn’t veto bills the governor wanted signed when the governor is out of town - as then Lt. Gov. Butch Otter did in 1987 on raising Idaho’s drinking age. Both also endorsed all three constitutional amendments regarding municipal debt that are on the November ballot.

Idaho Debates: LtGov and Secretary of State

The “Idaho Debates” tonight will feature the candidates for Lieutenant Governor, incumbent Republican Brad Little and Democratic challenger Eldon Wallace, starting at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific; followed by the candidates for Secretary of State, incumbent Republican Ben Ysursa and Democratic challenger Mack Sermon, at 8:30 Mountain, 7:30 Pacific. Watch it live on Idaho Public TV, or head down and see it in person at the Capitol Auditorium (enter from 8th Street stairs).

Labrador releases own poll, showing Minnick still ahead but lead shrinking

GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador released his own poll today showing Minnick leading him 37 percent to 31 percent, with 6 percent each for independent Dave Olson and Libertarian Mike Washburn and 21 percent undecided or favoring none of the candidates. The poll was conducted by Moore Information, which also did Labrador’s July 15 poll that showed Minnick leading Labrador by 10 points, 37-28 percent, with 26 percent undecided. “The momentum is with us,” said Labrador, who said he was “delighted” with his latest poll results; you can read more about it here.

The independent Idaho Newspapers Poll, conducted Sept. 13-15 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, showed Minnick leading Labrador 46-36 percent.

Idaho state GOP launches anti-Allred ad

The Idaho Republican Party has come out with a new TV commercial attacking Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor, which is airing statewide, starting yesterday in the Treasure Valley and throughout the rest of the state, including the Spokane market, today. “It’s an independent expenditure by the state party,” said Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko. “It’s a substantial buy.” You can see the commercial here. Coming tomorrow: A look at the claims.

Minnick wins police endorsement, Labrador plans rally with ‘Fire Pelosi Bus’

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has been endorsed by the Idaho Fraternal Order of Police, who said in a statement that the freshman Democrat “has shown that he is someone Idaho can trust on issues important to anyone who cares about enforcing the rule of law.” You can see Minnick’s announcement here.

Meanwhile, Minnick’s GOP challenger Raul Labrador announced that he’ll hold a rally on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Caldwell, when the Republican National Committee’s “Fire Pelosi Bus” comes to town; there’s more info here. Labrador says he’ll give a “major campaign address.”

Ad Watch: Allred’s latest commercial

Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor, has a new TV commercial out that’s running statewide. Like his last one, it criticizes Gov. Butch Otter for this year’s 7.5 percent cut in funding for public schools. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and here’s a look at the claims:

CLAIM: “We have a great country and a great state because we’ve invested in education. Cost-effective investments in education are an investment in a strong economy with the new and better jobs that go with it.”

CONTEXT: Few would dispute this claim; Otter has made similar statements.

CLAIM: “This is a governor who doesn’t get it when it comes to the priority that education is. He cut education for the first time in Idaho history, a whopping seven and a half percent, while also trying to raise taxes. It didn’t have to happen.”

CONTEXT: It’s true that Otter and the Legislature cut public school funding by 7.5 percent this year, though Otter notes that other programs took deeper cuts; but the tax increase that Otter championed, a gas tax hike to fund road maintenance, was pushed unsuccessfully in the two previous years, the 2009 and 2008 legislative sessions. Otter made no gas tax proposal this year, instead opting to appoint a transportation funding task force that will make recommendations in December, after the election; that task force is meeting again tomorrow.

Jim Weatherby, political scientist emeritus at Boise State University, said, “The timing here is off. It’s clear he’s talking about 2010 here, but then using a 2009 reference. It’s not completely accurate.”

The claim about cutting education for the first time is something even Otter acknowledges. Idaho actually cut general funds for public schools the previous year by $68 million, a first, but that year, the difference was mostly made up with federal stimulus funds, leaving schools with an overall funding increase of a fraction of a percent. This year’s cut is a drop in total funding for schools.

Allred’s claim that “it didn’t have to happen” refers to his position that the state shouldn’t have low-balled tax revenue projections for this year, forcing deeper cuts, and should have funded more tax collectors to collect due but uncollected taxes, a move the Tax Commission says would bring in millions. If estimates held, those two moves would have added up to millions more than this year’s $128.5 million cut in school funding.

Baumgartner will halt campaigning temporarily this weekend

The ding dongs Michael Baumgartner will hear this weekend won’t be from ringing the doorbells of potential voters.

They will be wedding bells.

(OK, that was dumbest lede ever, sorry.)

Republican Michael Baumgartner will get a break this weekend from the state’s costliest legislative race to get married.

He and his fiancee, British citizen Eleanor Mayne, aren’t just going to the Courthouse. They’re getting hitched in front 200 or so people on Sunday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane. Reception to follow at the Spokane Club.

The unusual timing, Baumgartner said, is related to Mayne’s citizenship. She was granted a fiance visa in August, giving them three months to make it official. 

Baumgartner acknowledged at a debate that will air tonight on KSPS that wedding planning has taken him from the campaign trail. But he says he doesn’t regret having to take time from the contentious race.

“I’m excited to be getting married to the love of my life,” Baumgartner said after the debate.

The race between incumbent Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr in the Sixth Legislative District has been highly contentious. Both sides accuse the other unfair, negative campaigning.

Baumgartner said he met Mayne when both worked for Civilian Police International, a company that had a contract to run a wheat seed distribution program in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Baumgartner was there from December 2008 until August 2009.

Questions, questions…

UPDATE: This is tonight! Granted, these are not the most high-profile state elected offices, but they do matter - the lieutenant governor, for example, casts tie-breaking votes in the state Senate, and the Secretary of State is our state’s chief election official and serves on the state Land Board, which oversees state endowment lands. Please post your questions here - in the comments section below - by 4 p.m. today…

I’m on the reporter panel for the “Idaho Debates” tomorrow night - that’s the Lieutenant Governor debate Thursday at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific time, and the Secretary of State debate at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time, 7:30 Pacific, both to be broadcast live on Idaho Public Television - and we need viewer/audience questions. Your questions for the candidates - Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Democratic challenger Eldon Wallace, and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and Democratic challenger Mack Sermon - can be submitted on Facebook here, on Twitter with the hashtags #LittleWallace or #YsursaSermon, or even, if you do it before 4 p.m. Thursday, as comments on this blog post right here. Fire away!

Otter: ‘Mitt and I have similar value systems’

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on today’s campaign visits to southern and eastern Idaho by Mitt Romney, as Gov. Butch Otter moves to shore up support among LDS voters. BSU political scientist emeritus Jim Weatherby said, “I’m not surprised Otter brought Romney in, not for his support of a health care mandate in Massachusetts, but for his popularity in eastern Idaho.” Otter is a vocal opponent of a government mandate that individuals  purchase health insurance; Idaho is suing the federal government over the issue. Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, enacted a mandate there as a key part of that state’s health care reforms.

The LDS vote, Weatherby said, is “a significant factor in eastern Idaho, where Butch Otter has not run very strongly.” Otter said, “Mitt and I have very similar value systems and I consider him a close friend and confidant.”

Otter decides to break silence on amendments, earlier said he’d take no position

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has abandoned his silence — at least partially — on three constitutional amendments on the Nov. 2 ballot. Earlier this week, he declined to take a position. His rival, Democratic candidate Keith Allred, supports all three. Otter now says he supports letting 11 municipal power companies sign longterm energy contracts, without a vote of the people. But he’s still deciding on the other two amendments. They’d allow publicly owned airports and hospitals to take on debt without an election, provided revenue, not taxes, covers the projects being financed. Otter says he’s still waiting to hear if public projects in other states financed by revenue bonds ever left taxpayers on the hook in the event of a default. His says his support will depend on whether he’s satisfied taxpayers are protected.

Allred response: ‘Unfortunate use of religious, partisan labels’

Here’s Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred’s response to incumbent Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign rally with Mitt Romney in Boise today and Frank VanderSloot’s comments there:

“It’s unfortunate that Frank Vandersloot wants to use religious and partisan labels to distract people from the actual positions held by the candidates. I stand for keeping taxes low on Idaho families and providing a great education for Idaho schoolkids. These are priorities that Republicans and Democrats, Mormons and non-Mormons alike support. By contrast, Butch Otter tried to raise taxes on Idaho families during the worst recession in our lifetimes, and pushed through an historic cut to Idaho’s schools. It’s precisely because my priorities are resonating so well with Idahoans that Butch Otter has asked Mitt Romney to ride to his rescue.”
 

Romney stumps for Otter in Boise

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter brought in former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to stump for him today in Idaho Falls and Boise, in an effort to pump up support among LDS voters in southern and eastern Idaho. Idaho Falls businessman Frank VanderSloot, who hosted the Idaho Falls campaign stop at his Melaleuca Inc. headquarters, rallied the crowd in Boise, saying Otter’s Democratic challenger, Keith Allred, has been sending eastern Idaho Mormons the message, “I’m Mormon so vote for me because I’m one of you guys.” VanderSloot said, “My answer to that is, well, Harry Reid is a Mormon.”

A third of Idaho’s population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Romney and VanderSloot are members, as is Allred; Otter is Catholic. Allred, who is running as a Democrat but has made his mark as a non-partisan citizen activist, has recently announced the support of a number of prominent eastern Idaho Republicans, many of whom are LDS. The recent Idaho Newspapers Poll showed Otter ahead of Allred statewide 45 percent to 29 percent, but in southeastern Idaho, that lead shrank to 42 percent to 36 percent.

Romney, who also came to Idaho to campaign for Otter when he first ran for governor four years ago, told a crowd of more than 100 at the Linen Building in Boise, “People recognize we’ve got a chance to get this country on the right course again.” He criticized “liberals,” and said, “They’re smothering the spirit that makes America such an engine of vitality and growth, and we’re not going to let them do that.” He said, “When things are tough … that’s when you test the real mettle of a leader,” and said Otter showed his leadership as governor by making “sure that the state government lives within its means.”

Otter, speaking after Romney, called up the four statewide elected officials who were in the audience - Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, state Controller Donna Jones and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden - to join him, and said, “We’re asking you now to keep this team together. … The last four years this team, along with the state Legislature, has had to make some tough decisions.” The Boise rally, which was free, followed a luncheon at Chandler’s steakhouse downtown for big-dollar campaign contributors, at which Otter spoke and Romney mingled; about 60 people attended. In Idaho Falls, Otter campaign spokesman Ryan Panitz estimated 400 to 500 people attended a rally in a large auditorium at Melaleuca, about a quarter of them Melaleuca employees.

The debate for state schools chief…

Here’s a link to my story at spokesman.com on the debate tonight between the two candidates seeking to lead Idaho’s school system for the next four years, and you can click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner. Tonight’s live debate was the first in a series; the “Idaho Debates” continue on Thursday with candidates for Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor facing off, followed in the coming weeks by the candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress and governor. The Idaho Debates are sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club, and are broadcast live statewide on Idaho Public Television; click here for more info.

Supt candidates speak out in closing comments

In their closing comments at the end of tonight’s debate, each candidate for superintendent of public instruction spoke out. “Idaho needs a real advocate for education,” incumbent Supt. Tom Luna declared. He then asked, “Is an advocate for education someone like me who is reducing his pay by 4 percent … (or) my opponent, who pays himself $175,000 a year and doesn’t reduce his pay by one dollar?” He said, “Folks, actions speak louder than words. I have always been an advocate for public education, not just in words but in deed.” He said kids need to realize their dreams. “If you elect me again, I’ll fight every day to make that happen.”

Olson said there are “very defined distinctions between the two of us.” He said of Luna’s comments in the debate, “I’ve heard this for four years, I have been boots-on-the-ground on the receiving end of this and I know full well that politics has trumped educational leadership year after year after year.” The state’s largest school districts have been “able to deal with it and move forward,” he said, but not the majority of districts that are smaller and rural. “We need to do better,” Olson said. “We are cheating the children of the state. We are giving them false hopes and giving them inadequate preparation … for the life that is before them. … We must do better.” He said he wants to “begin the process of transforming education back to where it should be.”

Candidates on their backgrounds…

Asked how their backgrounds - Luna’s as a businessman, and Olson’s as an educator - qualify them to serve as state superintendent, Olson, answering first, said he, too is a businessman, recounting the budget he oversaw at the Boise School District, the large number of service centers - schools - and clients - students. “We run a business operation from stem to stern,” he said. “Interestingly enough, our budget plan for the last six years has received national recognition for the work that’s been done by our staff and our board of trustees.”

Luna said, “I’ve been involved in improving education for twice as long as my opponent’s lived in Idaho. … Along with my business background, it’s helped me to see education from many, many different angles.” He said his business background helped him “analyze every source of revenue … every funding formula, to find ways to operate more efficiently to get more money into the classroom, because that’s where education happens.”

Teacher pay and a ‘parallel universe’

Asked about teacher pay, Luna said, “We have to do something about low teacher pay not just in Idaho but across the country. … We have to give teachers in Idaho more control over how much money they make.” He said he’s a proponent of career ladders and pay for performance. Olson said, “I know you are a proponent,” but said Luna didn’t execute because his pay-for-performance proposal for teachers was “not appropriate for the state, wasn’t well thought out and it was a boondoggle.” Luna responded that no Democrats voted for his plan because “the union” objected. He said, “Teachers don’t like the current system that they work in. They want it changed.” Luna said after his ISTARS proposal failed, he reached an agreement with the teachers’ association, the superintendents’ association, and others, and “when the economy turns around we’ll be ready to roll it forward.” Olson questioned that, and said, “I must have been serving in a parallel universe.”

Clashing on math initiative…

Asked about the state’s math initiative, Luna said it’s had “tremendous impact.” He noted that, among other changes, students are choosing to do additional math through the Apangea math program he’s added in classrooms. “We have states from all over the country that are coming to Idaho to learn about our math initiative,” Luna said. Olson said that program hasn’t impacted instruction, and questioned whether its manufacturer was a campaign contributor to Luna. “It would be compared to the rooster crowing in the morning being credited for the sunrise,” he said.

Luna: ‘That’s because it’s difficult, folks’

Reporter panelist Michelle Edmonds of KIVI-TV asked the two candidates if they’d take the ISAT test themselves and publicize their scores, a question that was submitted by a viewer online. Olson said, “I would not want to take especially the math portion of the ISAT. … Math is an area that I have struggled with all of my life, and still am in the process of developing my skills and my understanding.” Luna responded, “So let me see if I understand this right - this test is such a low bar and so easy, but it’s something you would avoid taking? … That’s because it’s difficult, folks.” He added, “As a matter of fact, I took those tests.” Luna said he, many legislators, and then-Gov. Kempthorne took the test when it was first rolled out. Olson responded, “We’re not allowed to open up the test” and administer it to others. “That’s bad test protocol.”

‘Have to tell you about that some day’

Challenger Stan Olson was describing a program in the Boise School District, which he headed as superintendent until his retirement this summer, and said, “It’s kind of like defending a dissertation - I’ll have to tell you about that some day.” That was a crack at Luna’s lack of a doctoral degree in education - Luna has only a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts with a focus on measurement science, while Olson has doctorate, master’s, specialist and bachelor’s degrees in education.

Debate: ‘We’re lying to our children’

Asked about testing and the Idaho Standards Achievement Test, Olson said of Idaho educators, “They know like I know that ISAT is a low-bar assessment.” Among the standards Idaho’s students should be tested for, he said, is “post-secondary readiness, and we’re lying to our children when we tell them the ISAT will get them there.”

Luna said the percentage of Idaho schools making “adequate yearly progress” under the No Child Left Behind Act, measured by the ISAT, has risen sharply. “Idaho has been a national leader in the increase of the number of our schools meeting these academic goals,” he said. “Mr. Olson will try to tell you this is an easy thing to do.” He added, “I believe that every child can learn and every school can be successful - my opponent apparently does not.”

Olson said the state is using “sealing wax, smoke and mirrors” to boost those percentages. “Our focus again needs to be on assessment that matters and that makes a difference, and that helps children establish where they are and where they need to go, and helps teachers.” He said some of the state’s top schools didn’t make AYP, and called it “nonsense.”

Candidates spar over budget, ‘special interests’

There was a pretty heated back-and-forth between the two candidates when they were asked by reporter panelist Adam Cotterell of Boise State Public Radio what they would have done differently in this year’s cuts in school funding. Luna said, “I would have preferred that the Legislature would have followed the … budget that I proposed.” He said that “special interests” insisted on different approaches, including cuts in things like classroom supplies that he didn’t want to make. Olson responded that “those special interests” are the educators involved, and that they should have a part in the decisions.

Supt candidates on ‘turning over every rock’ to find more money for schools

Incumbent state Supt. Tom Luna said he went to the state Land Board for more money for schools “when everybody else threw up their hands.” He said, “I fought that battle and in many ways fought it alone, and we were successful in getting $22 million. I still think there’s $30 million that could have been distributed. … I’ll continue to turn over every rock, I’ll shake every tree.”

Olson responded, “The problem with the rock turning … is that it’s all 11th-hour and 59th minute. My question is, Where were you three years ago and four years ago?”

Olson, Luna address revenue for schools

Reporter panelist Bill Roberts of the Idaho Statesman asked the two candidates if they’d support more revenue to spare schools from additional cuts next year. Olson said, “Before we spend the next dollar, we’ve got to … define a thorough system of education. … We keep getting an 11th-hour version of what that is.” Luna said he’d support taxing online sales, and “make sure that our Tax Commission has the right amount of tax collectors,” which he said would “immediately increase our tax revenue considerably and begin to provide more and more money for education.”

Why they’re running…

The first question for the two candidates, from moderator Thanh Tan of Idaho Public Television, was why each candidate is running for the position of state superintendent of schools. Incumbent Republican Tom Luna, who was first to answer, said, in part, “When I ran for this office I said that I wanted to be judged based on results, meaning higher student achievement. … Throughout this debate we’re going to have an opportunity to talk about the results we’ve seen the last four years.”

Olson said, “I”m a practitioner, I’ve been in the field 40 years. … We need to do much better, we are not doing well by our children, we are not doing well by our state.”

Ready for the debate…

People are filtering in for tonight’s debate, the first of the “Idaho Debates” this fall and the big face-off between the candidates for state Superintendent of Public Instruction. Here, reporter panelists and moderator Thanh Tan, left, of Idaho Public Television, get set up. Here’s a look at the two candidates:

Tom Luna, 51
Republican
Bio: Incumbent superintendent, elected in 2006; senior adviser to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, 2003 to 2005; businessman, owner of Scales Unlimited; served seven years on Nampa, Idaho school board, including three years as chairman; attended Ricks College and Boise State University; online bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison University in liberal arts with focus in measurement science, 2002; married, six children, five grandchildren.
Campaign promises: “My goal is to continue to change the culture of education to a customer driven system where we make decisions based on the customers of education and not what’s best and most comfortable for the bureaucracy of education.  Idaho is now recognized as a leader in student achievement, and my commitment is to continue to fight for the resources and reforms to keep student achievement moving forward.”

Stan Olson, 60
Democrat
Bio: Boise School District superintendent, 2002 to retirement on June 30 of this year; education career started as teacher and coach in 1971, included administrative posts in Michigan and Wyoming before Idaho; doctorate degree in educational leadership, Western Michigan University, 1983; master’s degree in education, Eastern Michigan University, 1977; bachelor’s degree in education, Central Michigan University, 1970; married, two children, two grandchildren
Campaign promises: “Forty years of educational experience has taught me that collaboration with parents, legislators, students, educators, and business leaders to build a strategic plan is the best way to help every student in Idaho succeed. I promise to cultivate such relationships to produce verifiable educational results, guarantee adequate funding for top priorities, ensure post-secondary readiness, and focus on educational success for all children, not on political ideology.”

Labrador: ‘This is a lie’

You can read my full story here about Congressman Walt Minnick’s latest campaign commercial, which is out today and replaces both of his earlier ads; the new one, like one of the earlier ones, faults Minnick’s GOP challenger, Raul Labrador, on immigration. Labrador decried the new ad as “deceptive” and “intentionally misleading;” Minnick’s campaign defended it as “informational” and “the truth.”

Meanwhile, Minnick also launched a radio ad that’s similar to the new TV ad but longer, with former U.S. Marshal for Idaho Mike Johnson talking about illegal immigration and about a do-it-yourself immigration law website Labrador operated until three years ago. In the radio ad, Johnson says, “Raul Labrador profited on immigration by selling documents to people they could have gotten for free,” a claim Minnick himself also made this week in an op-piece distributed to Idaho newspapers that editorialized against his earlier immigration ad. “Raul’s business website sold immigration documents that could be obtained for free from the U.S. government, taking advantage of those who did not know better,” Minnick wrote in the op-ed article.

Labrador sharply disputed that point, and said he never sold official immigration forms. “This is a lie,” Labrador said today. “It’s a complete fabrication. … I did not sell documents people could have gotten for free. I included forms, but that’s not what I was selling.” The do-it-yourself immigration law packets focused on instructions, Labrador said. “They had instructions on how to fill out the forms and included the forms for the convenience,” he said, “and it also sent them to the USCIS website so they could get the latest forms, just in case forms had changed.” He said, “They’re trying to say that I was trying to dupe people - it’s not true.”

Minnick’s campaign pointed to an Associated Press article about Labrador’s website, which said, “Some packets included forms seeking the same information as a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services questionnaire would ask, though the materials noted that rapidimmigration.com would use the information to fill in the federal application forms.” It also provided copies of a federal form and a form from one of Labrador’s packets that sought identical information.

Big debate tonight for state schools chief

Tonight is the big debate in the race for state superintendent of schools - incumbent Supt. Tom Luna vs. challenger Stan Olson. You can watch the debate live on Idaho Public Television starting at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific time, and submit your questions for the candidates on the IPTV Facebook page here. I’ll have live updates here at Eye on Boise. The debate will take place before a live audience in the Capitol Auditorium, and will be followed by a discussion and analysis to be broadcast online at www.idahoptv.org. Click here for more info.

Otter won’t take stand on amendments

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has refused to take a public stand on three proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 2 ballot, playing it safe on an issue he knows could alienate voters regardless of which side he came down on. His Democratic rival Keith Allred supports the amendments, to help local governments take on debt for projects or enter into longterm contracts without first asking voters, provided no taxpayer money is at stake. Otter says it’s up to voters, insisting he doesn’t want to “unduly influence” anybody’s view on measures he neither initiated nor championed. But the issue is dicey, especially this year, on an issue that’s divided the Idaho Republican Party: The GOP-led Legislature backed the amendments, while tea-party-leaning conservatives are fighting them fiercely.

Here’s a link to our recent full story on the three amendments by reporter Alison Boggs.

1st CD rivals focus on immigration issue

Here’s a link to our full story in today’s Spokesman-Review on Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s appearance in Coeur d’Alene at a Republican fundraiser yesterday, where he endorsed Raul Labrador’s run for Congress, saying Labrador will “help America solve the problem of illegal immigration.” Meanwhile, incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick has come out with a new campaign commercial - replacing the two he was running earlier, including one sharply criticizing Labrador on immigration - and the new one also faults Labrador’s immigration record, this time with former U.S. Marshal for Idaho Mike Johnson talking. You can see the new ad here.

See the candidates clash: It’s debate season

It’s debate season, with major debates set in the coming weeks in Idaho’s top political races, giving voters who tune in a chance to see and compare the candidates. The Idaho Debates, which have been sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club and aired on Idaho Public Television live for the past three decades, kick off this week with tomorrow night’s live debate in the race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, and on Thursday night, debates in the contests for Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State.

The superintendent’s debate, featuring incumbent Republican Tom Luna and Democratic challenger Stan Olson, will be broadcast live tomorrow night starting at 8 p.m. Mountain time, 7 p.m. Pacific time, from the Capitol auditorium, where it will take place before a live audience. On Thursday night, the Lieutenant Governor debate will air at 8 p.m. Mountain, 7 p.m. Pacific, followed by the Secretary of State debate a half-hour later.

There’s more: Candidates for U.S. Senate, including incumbent Mike Crapo and Democratic challenger Tom Sullivan, will debate on Oct. 12; candidates for the 1st Congressional District seat, including incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick, GOP challenger Raul Labrador and independent Dave Olson, will debate on Oct. 14; and  all five candidates for governor will face off in a live debate on Oct. 28th. Each debate will be followed by a live online post-debate analysis and discussion; this year’s Idaho Debates are co-sponsored by a wide array of media partners, including the Associated Press, KIVI-TV, KBOI-TV, the Idaho State Broadcasters Association, the Idaho Statesman and more.

Candidates for governor also are scheduled to debate Oct. 13 at the College of Idaho, in a separate debate organized by three TV stations including KTVB-TV in Boise.