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Risch: Jeers To Extremist Risch

In his latest Cheers & Jeefs column, Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune offers jeers to U.S. Sen. Jim Risch:

First, Congressional Quarterly Magazine ranked him President Obama's No. 1 adversary in the Senate. Risch has voted against the president 73.3 percent of the time - far and away more than anyone else. Crapo, ranked third, voted 70.9 percent of the time against Obama's agenda.Then the National Journal once again named Risch the most conservative member of the Senate. He earned the same rating last year. Crapo came in 10th. There was a time when getting labeled as an extremist would be an embarrassment. Risch trumpeted both. Complete Cheers & Jeers column here.

Question: Will Risch's complete resistance to President Obama's agenda come back to haunt Idaho, which is heavily dependent on federal dollars?

Trustee Races Highlight Con Roots

Brent Regan’s yard signs identify him as a Republican. His challenger, Christa Hazel, has “common sense conservative” on hers. Political persuasion is on full display in the race to sit on the Coeur d’Alene School Board, even though the ballots make no reference to party. It’s one in a series of election showdowns here forming a politically charged battleground for offices long seen as strictly nonpartisan. Ever a conservative stronghold, Kootenai County looks to be swinging even further to the right with a wave of party faithful targeting city councils, school boards, the Kootenai Hospital District board and even lowly highway districts. Firing the salvos is the Reagan Republicans, a group that formed in 2009 with a clear focus in mind: Make elected Democrats and moderates as rare as the giant Palouse earthworm/Scott Maben, SR. More here. (Kathy Plonka SR photo: Brent Regan’s election sign adorns the front yard of a home in Hayden)

Question: So which side did better in promoting its candidates during the School Board/hospital board campaigns — Reagan Republicans or Balance North Idaho?

Pot Backers Target Conservatives

It’s not all hippies backing November’s marijuana legalization votes in Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Appealing to Western individualism and a mistrust of federal government, activists have lined up some prominent conservatives, from one-time presidential hopefuls Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul to Republican-turned-Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. “This is truly a nonpartisan issue,” said Mark Slaugh, a volunteer for the Colorado initiative who is based in Colorado Springs, which has more Republicans than anywhere else in the state/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Do you support legalization of marijuana?

Mag: Crapo 3rd Most Conservative

For over 30 years, the National Journal has rated members of Congress on their conservative records, and Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has been ranked third in the U.S. Senate for his voting scorecard in 2011.  The respected publication determines ratings based on select roll-call votes from previous years to create an ideological scale for Congress, including votes regarding economic, foreign and social policy issues.  The publication gave Crapo high marks for his leadership on issues such as deficit reduction, tax reform and health care/News Release from Mike Crapo's office. More here.

Question: Any of these rankings surprise you?

Richert: Regarding Frank VanderSloot

Frank VanderSloot (pictured) denied a lot of different things Tuesday. In a 1,750-word statement to Salon.com, VanderSloot denied that he’s a billionaire. He denied that the business that made him his fortune — Melaleuca, an Idaho Falls household and nutritional products company — is a “pyramid scheme.” Despite his long record of supporting Idaho Republicans, he said he doesn’t consider himself a Republican or a Democrat. “I’m quite conservative on most social and economic issues. And I’m pretty liberal on most environmental issues.” He also denied the central point of a 3,600-word column written by Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald: his assertion that VanderSloot uses his money and “chronic bullying threats” to muzzle reporters and bloggers who dare to challenge him/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Did you know much — anything? — about Frank VanderSloot & his use of his Melaleuca fortune to support Mitt Romney & conservative candidates before he was focus of Salon & Rachel Maddow stories?

Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/22/krichert/for_many_idaho_voters_vandersloot_story_may_be_a_nonstory#storylink=twt#storylink=cpy

AM/Idaho: Labrador Turns Back $$$

Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., left, leads members of the 112th Congress' freshman class, from second from left, Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., and Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., during a news conference on Capitol Hill Washington today to announce their request that their Members Representative Allowance (MRA) funds leftover from Legislative Year 2011 be treated as a gift to reduce the debt held by the public and be transferred the U.S. Treasury to help immediately pay down the national debt. Story here. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

District 3: How Far Right Can You Go?

Conservatism is practically a religion in Idaho’s legislative District 3, the district that elected tax-protesting state Rep. Phil Hart four times and this year added two like-minded lawmakers he recruited to run. “I was considered a radical to my friends in California, and then I got up here and found out I was a moderate,” said Vito Barbieri (pictured), a first-term state representative and, like many District 3 residents, a California transplant who moved north. The district, which takes in Hayden, tony Hayden Lake, the once-agricultural but fast-developing Rathdrum Prairie and little towns like Spirit Lake and Athol, has seen massive development and population increase over the last decade, but its conservative nature is nothing new – the last time a Democrat was elected here was in 1994. No Democrat has even run for the Legislature since 2002, and then there was just one candidate, who lost/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Would you want a hardline conservative trio like Vick-Barbieri-Hart trio to represent you?

Conservatives ♥ Tea Party

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. gets a hug from a supporter during a Tea Party "Continuing Revolution Rally" on Capitol Hill in Washington earlier today. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As Democrats accuse Republican congressional leaders of being co-opted by the Tea Party in the federal budget negotiations, a new survey shows that half of all conservative voters ardently support the movement. The University of Washington poll suggests that the popularity of the Tea Party movement is wider than many political strategists have estimated. And it bolsters perceptions of Democrats and others that Tea Party supporters are as conservative about social and policy issues as they are about the Tea Party's fiscal principles/Corey Dade, NPR. More here.

Question: Do you now think that the Tea Party is here to stay — and is refashioning the Republican Party into its image?

Costello: U.S. Doesn’t Want Moderation

The large majority of Americans have made it clear that they don’t want moderation. They want decisiveness. If Republicans are capable of learning, they could take lessons from what has worked. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell both won surprising victories by promising to govern conservatively. Both have grown in popularity by adhering to those promises. This is especially notable in New Jersey as that state is about as hostile to Republicans as any in the union. If Republicans can demonstrate that they’ve learned their lessons and are willing to make the difficult choices necessary to steer America back on the right track, they are likely to be rewarded in 2012, because it’s unlikely that Democrats will be able to give Americans an affirmative reason to restore them to power/Michael Costello, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Is Costello right — that Americans want Republicans in Congress to make tough conservative choices rather than to embrace moderation?