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Fulcher sees slim hope for party unity

As Idaho Republicans head to Moscow for the state party convention in hopes of unifying a deeply divided party, state Sen. Russ Fulcher, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Butch Otter in the GOP primary, isn’t too optimistic about unity. “We are very, very split as a party,” he said. Right after the election, Fulcher said people began urging him to consider running for party chairman to try to heal the rift. “So I called the governor,” he said, and discussed the idea. Fulcher said he told Otter, “My inclination is not to, unless you say, ‘Hey, look, as a move towards party unity or whatever, I think Fulcher should do this and I would support him there.’”

Otter declined, Fulcher said, instead saying he’d decided not to endorse anyone in advance of the convention, and telling Fulcher, “’If you run and get elected, certainly I’ll support you.’ I said, ‘That’s fine,’” Fulcher said, “but frankly I think that kind of defeats the whole purpose of a unity argument up-front, if you don’t go into that with kind of a consensus deal. … There just wasn’t a desire to try to connect on that front.” Read more. Betsy Russell, EOB

Do agree with Fulcher's assessment regarding GOP unity?

Today’s fun video: Colbert on the great ID gov debate

 

Stephen Colbert is a little late in weighing in on the Idaho gubernatorial debate, but last night managed to wrap Harley Brown and Walt Bays into a report on Tuesday's primary results.

This may confirm for some Russ Fulcher's complaint that Gov. Butch Otter's insistence that the two “out there” candidates in the sole debate made Idaho a laughingstock. To which Spin Control can only say: “Oh, waaaaah.”

Watch for a guest appearance by the S-R's Betsy Russell late in the segment.

Fulcher talks golf, Otter hints Fulcher could be a prospect for party chairman…

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who lost his challenge against a sitting governor of his own party in yesterday’s primary, drew a laugh when he asked the crowd at today’s traditional Republican Party “unity” rally on the state Capitol steps, “Anybody want to go golfing?” Fulcher said, “My life just got substantially more simple, and you know what, that’s a good thing for a while here.” He said, “It is fitting, it is proper and it is necessary for me to congratulate Gov. Butch Otter.”

Otter, who pulled Fulcher aside to talk before the rally started, suggested he has a role in mind for his former challenger. Asked if he’ll support state GOP Chairman Barry Peterson, who said yesterday he expects to seek another term as party chairman, Otter said, “It’s way too early to talk about that. I have been contacted by folks that suggested they’d be interested in it, probably five or six.” Plus, he said, “Some of these candidates that were not successful may be interested in running the party.” Otter noted that he expressed approval of Fulcher as a potential party chairman prospect before Peterson took over. “I want to talk to all the other candidates and see where they want to lead this party,” Otter said.

AdWatch: Otter, Fulcher both launch new TV ads, Fulcher stretches claims

Both Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and his Republican challenger, state Sen. Russ Fulcher, have launched new TV commercials in the final days leading up to Tuesday’s election, but Fulcher’s contains two false claims and an exaggeration. Fulcher’s ad, titled “It’s Time,” recites a litany of criticisms of Otter’s record in two terms as governor, as various claims flash on the screen, including “105,000 Idahoans lost insurance” and “Government dependence up 82 percent.” Neither of those claims is true. It also exaggerates the number of years Otter’s held elective office, claiming 40 years rather than 32.

Otter’s ad, titled, “Two Choices, portrays his move to launch a state insurance exchange as an example of his fighting the federal government, while Fulcher seeks to tie Otter to Democratic President Barack Obama. Voters seeing both these ads will be left with a question, said BSU professor emeritus Jim Weatherby: “Who do you trust, who do you believe? Because they can’t both be accurate.” You can read my full AdWatch story here at spokesman.com.

Fulcher promises to spare state ‘public humiliation’ like last night’s gubernatorial debate

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, is decrying last night’s gubernatorial debate, saying incumbent Gov. Butch Otter’s insistence on including two marginal candidates created a “circus atmosphere.” “As a result, the ‘debate’ turned from a serious discussion regarding the position for Idaho’s chief executive, to a mockery of the Republican Party and of Idaho,” Fulcher said. “Clearly, the governor wanted to take time away from me and minimize exposure to his failed record as governor.”

Fulcher said, “When I am governor, I will not subject my party or my state to this type of public humiliation.” You can read his full statement here.

Today’s fun video: ID gov debate

 

There are about as many differences between Washington and Idaho politics as there are differences between the two states. 

 As this video demonstrates, Idaho gubernatorial debates are quite a bit more entertaining, as dark horse candidates Harley Brown and Walt Bayes join Gov. Butch Otter and his main Republican opponent Russ Fulcher on stage for a debate. 

This is not to say Washington doesn't have its own stable of unusual folks who run for office. Mike The Mover and GoodSpaceGuy have jumped into congressional races. But they don't often wind up in a debate broadcast around the state on public television.

Brown and Bayes, who were invited at the insistence of Otter, kind of steal the show at various times.

Kudos to colleague Betsey Russell, The Spokesman-Review's Boise bureau chief, who is on the panel and handles this all with great aplomb.

National political blogs — which normally pay as much attention to Idaho as they do to Liechtenstein, are agog with the debate. 

The fill video lasts about an hour, but for highlights, try Buzz Feed's 9 Reasons Why The Idaho Gubernatorial Debate Was the Most Important Political Event of the Year.

Fulcher on attending debates and forums with just Bayes and Brown: ‘It’s awkward’

With all the attention today on the antics of little-known GOP primary candidates for governor Harley Brown and Walt Bayes in last night’s debate, imagine what it’s been like for state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, appearing at forums with just those two – because Otter agreed to only one face-off, last night’s televised debate, and insisted that all four candidates be included. “I’ve gone to probably 11 candidate forums in the last 14 days all over the state, by myself I might add, or with Walt Bayes and Harley Brown,” Fulcher told Eye on Boise earlier this week. “Without Gov. Otter.”

Asked what it’s been like to appear with the other two candidates, Fulcher said, “It’s awkward, it’s awkward. It’s just, there’s a different motivation and I don’t completely relate to what their motives may or may not be, it’s not clear to me. So it’s hard. On a personal level, as far as I know, I like them personally. But it’s certainly difficult when you’re trying to do a debate or answer questions.”

Voter Guide: Gov’s race, others face Idaho voters in Tuesday’s primary

Idaho’s 72-year-old millionaire rancher governor has built a long political career on disdain for the federal government and stirring talk of “freedom” and Idahoans being the “architects of our own destiny.” So Butch Otter, who successfully ran for Congress a decade and a half ago on a pledge to tell the feds to “butt out” of the state – and served three terms – seems a bit puzzled about his current GOP primary challenge, from a state Senate leader who maintains Otter’s not conservative enough.

“Did I ever believe in my life somebody would run at me from the right? No, I didn’t,” Otter said, as he paused from campaigning for a third term as governor, walking from door to door in a Meridian neighborhood, talking folks up and handing out brochures.

Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, is heading a slate of candidates challenging Idaho’s top GOP office-holders in the primary, saying they’re not true enough to the Idaho Republican Party’s platform, not sufficiently averse to Obamacare, and wrong not to dump Common Core standards for school kids and try to take title to federal public lands in the state.

Fulcher calls the Affordable Care Act “the greatest expansion of government in our lifetimes,” and faults Otter for pushing for a state-based health insurance exchange. And he says with a “broke” federal government, Idaho has the best shot it’s ever had at getting title to the more than 60 percent of the state that now consists of federal public lands, much of it grazing or forest land. You can read my full story here on the governor’s primary race – the only debate between Otter and Fulcher, also featuring candidates Harley Brown and Walt Bayes, is on Idaho Public TV tonight at 8.

And click here for our S-R voter guide, on contested races in Tuesday’s primary for statewide offices, North Idaho legislative races and local contests in Kootenai County.

Otter, Fulcher Fight For GOP Vote

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter stops to talk with reporters while campaigning door-to-door in Meridian last weekend. Otter faces a GOP primary challenge May 20 from Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher in his bid for a third term as Idaho governor. (SR photo: Betsy Russell)

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has built a long political career on disdain for the federal government, stirring talk of freedom and encouraging Idahoans to be the “architects of our own destiny.” So the 72-year-old, a millionaire rancher who ran for Congress a decade and a half ago on a pledge to tell the feds to “butt out” of the state, seems a bit puzzled about his GOP primary challenge by a state Senate leader who maintains Otter is not conservative enough. “Did I ever believe in my life somebody would run at me from the right? No, I didn’t,” Otter said, as he paused from campaigning for a third term as governor, walking door to door in a Meridian neighborhood. His challenger, Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, pictured, heads a slate of Republican candidates taking on Idaho’s top GOP officeholders in the primary. The challengers say the incumbents are not true enough to the Idaho Republican Party’s platform/Betsy Russell, SR. More here.

Question: If nothing else, Fulcher deserves credit for giving Idahoans a choice for the GOP nomination, right?

No comment from Otter camp as Labrador charges Otter has ‘failed to lead’

Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign had no comment on the announcement today from 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador that he’s endorsing Russ Fulcher, Otter’s GOP primary challenger. Here’s some more of what Labrador had to say: “Idaho’s business climate is not competitive with other states, our citizens are hurting and our state is more dependent on the federal government. I believe that Butch Otter has failed to lead.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Labrador Endorses Fulcher For Guv

First District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador endorsed Russ Fulcher for governor today, over two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter. “Butch Otter has done a lot of things to admire in office,” Labrador said at a Statehouse news conference with Fulcher. “But after 40 years in government, he has lost his way. … Idahoans are looking for leaders with political courage and fresh ideas. Russ Fulcher has both. … He will give our state a chance to fulfill its promise.” Labrador, a tea party favorite who’s facing only token opposition in his bid for a third term in Congress, said he believes Idaho “should be the next Silicon Valley,” and said he thought Fulcher would steer the state to “high tech and high wages”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here. (Eye on Boise photo: Betsy Russell)

Question: Is Labrador taking a big political risk here by endorsing the opponent of a two-term governor?

Labrador endorses Fulcher for governor, decries ‘good-old-boys network’

First District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador endorsed Russ Fulcher for governor today, over two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter. “Butch Otter has done a lot of things to admire in office,” Labrador said at a Statehouse news conference with Fulcher. “But after 40 years in government, he has lost his way. … Idahoans are looking for leaders with political courage and fresh ideas. Russ Fulcher has both. … He will give our state a chance to fulfill its promise.”

Labrador, a tea party favorite who’s facing only token opposition in his primary-election bid to run for a third term in Congress, said he believes Idaho “should be the next Silicon Valley,” and said he thought Fulcher would steer the state to “high tech and high wages.” “I think what we need is a new vision for Idaho,” Labrador said. “We need strong leaders. We should not go with the good-old-boys network.”

Fulcher said, “This is not simple and this is not easy for Raul Labrador to do. I recognize that. There is a political cost any time you make a statement like that.” He lauded Labrador for standing on principle, and said, “That is the approach that I intend to follow as the governor of the state.”

Labrador had previous endorsed Lawerence Denney in the four-way GOP race for Idaho Secretary of State, and Todd Hatfield in his challenge to GOP state Controller Brandon Woolf. Denney, Hatfield and Fulcher are part of a slate of candidates opposing current Idaho GOP officials in the primary including Otter; Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who is being challenged by Jim Chmelik; and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who is being challenged by C.T. “Chris” Troupis.

Last-minute campaign cash flying in governor’s race

In this final period before the May 20 primary election, large donations – those of $1,000 or more – must be reported by Idaho candidates within 48 hours. So far, last-minute campaign cash has been flowing to Gov. Butch Otter and GOP challenger Russ Fulcher. Since last week, Otter has received eight of those donations and Fulcher has received five.

Here are Otter’s: $10,000 from Frank and Belinda VanderSloot; $10,000 from Allan P. Bloxsom III of Boerne, Texas; $5,000 each from JP Morgan Chase and CenturyLink Idaho PAC; $4,000 from Comcast Corp.; $2,500 from the NRA Political Victory Fund; and $1,000 each from the Idaho Cattle Association and Phoenix-based Apollo Group.

Fulcher has received $5,000 each from Jack Beverage and Kelly Beverage of Middleton and Ben Buckendorf of Boise; $2,000 from Rod Furniss of Rigby; and $1,000 from Ryan Moyle of Heyburn.

Otter, Fulcher ponder the future of Idaho’s GOP

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter told Boise State Public Radio this week that the May 20 primary election for governor “is about the heart and soul of the Republican Party, as well as about what kind of a champion the Republican Party wants going into November.” Otter faces a GOP primary challenge from Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher; BSPR is airing extended interviews with both this week. You can listen to their Otter interview here, and their Fulcher interview here, both with host Scot Graf; each full interview runs close to 18 minutes.

Otter decried the split in Idaho’s Republican Party. “Those people that I only agree with 80 percent of the time are not my enemy,” he said. “I think the Republican Party in Idaho for the future needs to focus on our problems instead of those things that we disagree with all the time. There’s a lot of things that we agree on.”

Fulcher, who’s staked out a campaign appealing to tea party supporters, told BSPR, “There’s no question … there is a divide in our party and it’s splintered significantly. The general argument is should we be a bigger tent and really not take that much stock in adhering to what our platform philosophy is, or should we shrink that tent down and have kind of some truth in advertising.” He said, “I consider myself a mainstream candidate. … If you take a look at my positions, every single one is in line with the Republican Party platform in its entirety.”

Fulcher calls Otter’s new economic plan ‘more of the same’

Gov. Butch Otter’s GOP challenger, Sen. Russ Fulcher, offered a blistering response today to Otter’s announcement of a new economic plan dubbed “Accelerate Idaho,” to follow his “Project 60,” which was aimed at increasing the state’s GDP. Fulcher’s statement, headed, “Gov. Otter offers more of the same – which is not good enough,” says, “Other states have out-performed Idaho. … The governor’s answer was to send the department of commerce to the legislature to create a board that would essentially act as an ‘economic sweepstakes panel’ choosing winners and losers to receive tax incentives.”

Fulcher wrote, “ALL Idaho businesses need tax incentives, not just the ones chosen by government. That’s why I have been talking about a simplified tax plan for all businesses and individuals.” You can see his full statement here

Fulcher first to hit airwaves in Idaho gov’s race, as primary election looms…

With just three weeks left before Idaho’s primary election, GOP gubernatorial challenger Russ Fulcher has launched his first statewide campaign commercial and posted billboards around the state – but incumbent Gov. Butch Otter hasn’t. “We have not put any TV up yet, no,” said Jayson Ronk, Otter’s campaign manager. Asked if the Otter campaign will hit the airwaves between now and the primary, Ronk said, “Oh yes.”

But Otter’s been running a low-key race as he seeks a third term as governor, leaving Fulcher, the Idaho Senate’s GOP majority caucus chairman, to face off with fringe candidates Harley Brown and Walter Bayes at candidate forums around the state. Otter has agreed to just one debate with Fulcher and the other two candidates, which will air statewide on Idaho Public Television on May 14. The primary election is May 20.

China Gum, Fulcher’s campaign manager, said, “If Russ Fulcher’s legacy was the legacy that the governor has, then he probably wouldn’t want to get out in front of the people and answer questions too.” Ronk said, “We’ve got a full campaign plan that we intend to execute.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, including an AdWatch analysis of Fulcher’s new TV spot.

Liberty Caucus Endorses Fulcher

A libertarian group operating within the Idaho Republican Party is making its first endorsements in a slate led by Sen. Russ Fulcher in his challenge to two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter. The Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho also backs challengers to three other statewide incumbents: Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik over Lt. Gov. Brad Little; Boise lawyer C.T. “Chris” Troupis over Attorney General Lawrence Wasden; and Boise businessman Todd Hatfield over Controller Brandon Woolf. In races for open statewide seats, the group endorses Rep. Lawerence Denney for secretary of state over Evan Frasure, Phil McGrane and Mitch Toryanski; and for John Eynon for superintendent of public instruction over Andy Grover, Randy Jensen and Sherri Ybarra/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Am I the only one who thinks that there's going to be all-out political war within the Idaho Republican Party, if mainstream Republicans win up and down the ballot?

Carlson: Butch Whups Fulcher Easily

A conservative friend has challenged me to predict the outcome of the major Republican primary races, and “to say something nice about the projected winners.” Hokey dokey. Here goes. Prognosticating a “closed” primary is difficult because no one can say with certainty who will actually vote. A poll may show one person far ahead, but if the expected winner has not mobilized his or her supporters to vote an underdog who has could surprise. Governor: Butch Otter easily turns back the challenge mounted by State Senator Russ Fulcher of Meridian. The margin will be 60/40. While many Republicans are hard pressed to say what the governor has done to merit a third term and share my dismay at the evisceration of public school funding that has happened on his watch, they cannot buy Fulcher’s Tea Party beliefs nor the absurd Republican platform/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Chronicles. More here.

Question: Do you agree w/long-time Idaho political observer Chris Carlson that Gov. Butch Otter will beat Sen. Russ Fulcher easily?

Senate Gun Vote Steams House

Rep. Rick Youngblood, R-Nampa, is plenty steamed about the demise of his bill, HB 514, in a Senate committee today; the measure would have removed state elected officials’ exemption from the requirement for a concealed weapons permit. “I guess I’m surprised that a senator would say he should maintain special privileges over the people who put him into office,” Youngblood said, referring to comments in the committee by Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. “Isn’t that kind of odd?”/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.

DFO: Next time you see state Sen. Russ “Special Gun Privileges” Fulcher in the area schmoozing for votes in his bid to unseat Gov. Butch Otter, you might ask him why he deserves special gun privileges that his constituents don't get.

Fulcher decries Otter’s proposed $2M wolf control fund as unneeded ‘bureaucracy’

Sen. Russ Fulcher is ripping Gov. Butch Otter’s proposal for a new $2 million wolf control fund. “I don’t know what we need to spend $2 million for,” Fulcher said on the Nate Shelman radio show on KBOI radio this afternoon. Fulcher, who is challenging Otter in the GOP primary, said Otter’s plan would “create another bureaucracy in order to manage this.”

Otter announced the new fund in his State of the State message this week, telling a joint session of the Legislature, “One form of growth we don’t want to encourage is in the wolf population that was imposed on Idaho almost 20 years ago. With your unflinching support, we were able to fight through the opposition of those who would make Idaho into a restricted-use wildlife refuge and take back control of these predators from our federal landlords.”

He said, “We’re hunting them now, and they’re a trophy hunting species. But the population is still growing, and our resources remain at risk.” Otter’s proposed state budget for next year calls for spending $2 million in state general funds, on a one-time basis, to start up the new fund, and then adding contributions each year of $110,000 apiece from hunting licenses and the livestock industry to sustain the fund. “This three-pronged approach will provide the revenue needed to more effectively control Idaho’s burgeoning wolf population and ease the impact on our livestock and wildlife,” Otter said to applause.

Wolf control is a touchy subject; Idaho currently is being sued over its move to hire a professional hunter to exterminate two wolf packs in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, and federal wildlife agencies have lost a chunk of their funding for such efforts to federal budget cuts in recent years.

Fulcher said wolves are “not a trophy species,” they’re a “predator.” He said, “Why wouldn’t we just increase the number of (wolf hunting) tags and let one predator take care of another? … This is an emotional issue in this state. I don’t know why we need another bureaucracy.”

Fulcher decries Otter’s ‘tepid leadership’

Senate GOP Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who's running against fellow Republican Gov. Butch Otter in the primary, released a statement on both video and audio this afternoon, reacting to the governor's State of the State message. Fulcher said the governor's speech to a joint session of the Legislature today “offers more evidence that he is out of touch with Idaho’s problems,” and decried Otter's “tepid leadership.” Said Fulcher, “He’s offering more of the same mediocre policies that won’t advance our friends and neighbors on a path toward prosperity and opportunity.” Click below for Fulcher's full statement.

When history rhymes: A look back at the last time an Idaho guv was defeated in the primary…

In his Johnson Post blog, Marc Johnson offers an interesting take today on the historical parallels between this year, when two-term Gov. Butch Otter faces a primary challenge from a member of an insurgent wing of the Idaho Republican Party, state Sen. Russ Fulcher, to 1966, when popular three-term GOP Gov. Robert E. Smylie faced a similar challenge – and unexpectedly lost to Don Samuelson. “The politics of Idaho just became a lot more interesting,” Johnson writes, “and, while it should be said emphatically that Butch Otter has many, many significant advantages as he goes for a third term as governor – a solid conservative record, a winning personality, a polished retail approach to politics, lots of money, and the advantages of incumbency – once in a while history does rhyme.”

Johnson also notes that the eventual outcome of the 1966 political upheaval in Idaho was a 1970 election that began 24 straight years of Democratic control of the Idaho governorship, with the election of Cecil Andrus, “a political phenomenon that seemed unimaginable four decades ago, but that happened in no small part because of the turmoil fostered by the primary defeat of an Idaho governor who seemed unbeatable until he wasn’t.” You can read Johnson’s full piece here.

Fulcher flies around state, announces he’ll challenge Otter

State Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, launched his campaign for governor today, flying from Meridian to Coeur d'Alene to Idaho Falls to announce that he'll run against GOP Gov. Butch Otter in Idaho's May primary. Otter is a second-term governor who's seeking a third term and earlier served three terms in Congress and 14 years as the state's lieutenant governor; Fulcher is a fifth-term state senator who's taken exception to Otter's move to establish a state-based health insurance exchange, rather than letting the federal government run Idaho's exchange. Fulcher, shown here greeting supporters in Idaho Falls, said his first priority would be “reversing Gov. Otter's efforts to implement Obamacare here in Idaho,” and added, “I also believe our state is going down the wrong path in areas of education and the adoption of other federal programs.”

Otter, who is finishing up a state trade mission to Russia, had no immediate comment, nor did his campaign manager, Jayson Ronk, who told the Associated Press, “The governor has a campaign plan in place that we intend to execute.” Click below for a full report from the AP.

Fulcher sets announcements Sat. in Meridian, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls

GOP Sen. Russ Fulcher of Meridian has scheduled announcements in Meridian, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls on Saturday to announce his “decision about a potential gubernatorial bid,” after several weeks of traveling the state to gauge support. Fulcher said he’s reached his decision “after much prayerful consideration;” you can see his full announcement schedule here.

As Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey noted this morning, “Fulcher, who isn’t made of money, surely wouldn’t be flying around the state to say he’s decided not to run.  Despite Otter’s likely financial advantage and incumbency, Fulcher’s in.”

Fulcher, currently the Senate GOP caucus chair, is a fifth-term senator and a commercial real estate agent who worked in high tech for 24 years, including 15 years at Micron Technology and nine years as vice president of sales and marketing for Preco Electronics; he grew up on a Meridian dairy farm, and holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Boise State University.

Fulcher’s announcement comes as Otter, the second-term Republican governor, is gone on a nine-day trade mission to Russia.

Of Common Core standards and legislative approval…

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who’s on a “listening tour” around Idaho as part of exploring whether to challenge GOP Gov. Butch Otter in the May primary election, said during a recent stop in Pocatello that the Legislature has not yet addressed the state’s new Common Core standards for public school student achievement; his comment was reported in the Idaho State Journal. But reporter Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News notes this morning that the record shows otherwise: The Education committees in the House and Senate approved the standards in January of 2011. Fulcher served on the Senate Education Committee at the time, and still does; you can read Richert’s full report here.

A look back at the Senate Ed minutes from 2011 shows that when the Common Core standards were brought to the panel on Jan. 19, 2011, there was a lengthy presentation, first from state schools Superintendent Tom Luna, who told the senators that 41 states helped develop the standards with the idea that it had to be a state-led effort, not a federal mandate; followed by aide Luci Willits, who described the standards and their development in detail, even giving an example of a standard for sixth-graders.

“Ms. Willits said the State Department of Education does not have rulemaking authority in Idaho,” the minutes state. “Although in other states the Superintendent can dictate standards changes, in Idaho they have to go through the Legislature.” The standards were presented as administrative rules, for legislative approval.

Fulcher was among the senators on the committee who asked questions about the standards during the presentation; he then asked that the vote on them be put off until a future meeting. Five days later, on Jan. 24, 2011, the Senate committee, including Fulcher, approved the rules unanimously.

Report: Fulcher’s legislative record on education matches Otter’s

After Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher told Eye on Boise this week that he’s not “on the same page” as Gov. Butch Otter on education, Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert analyzed Fulcher’s legislative record on the issue – and found that it mirrored Otter’s position nearly exactly. “Fulcher’s voting record shows that he was in line with Otter on every major education issue of 2013,” Richert reported; you can read his full report here. Fulcher is considering challenging Otter in the GOP primary in May.

Fulcher says it’ll be ‘several weeks’ before he decides whether to challenge Otter

Asked by Eye on Boise why he’s looking at a possible run for governor – against a popular two-term sitting governor from his own party – Idaho Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, said, “I just feel like we’re going down the wrong path.” Fulcher, who filed  paperwork over the weekend allowing him to begin raising funds for a possible challenge to Gov. Butch Otter in the GOP primary, said, “It is not a firm decision at this point, but what it does allow us to do is take the exploratory steps over the next few weeks. … We’ll be talking to people across the state and evaluating whether or not it’s a good idea, and whether or not there appears to be some broad-based support.”

Fulcher said the state health insurance exchange isn’t the only issue on which he differs from Otter. “I don’t think we’re on the same page with the lands issue,” he said. “I don’t think we’re on the same page, at least in terms of approach, with education.” But, he said, “Not all issues are created equal, OK? And this health care issue is a big, big deal. Here we’ve got Idaho voluntarily engaging with a program that Americans don’t want, Idahoans don’t want, and just as predicted, you’ve got the program failing out of the gate.”

Fulcher said it’ll take him “several weeks” to determine whether or not to make the run. “To do it right, you have to interact with people all over the state, so we’ll be embarking on that here in short order,” he said. “My intent is not to try to throw Butch Otter personally in the crosshairs all the time. … I’m much more focused on trying to share an alternate vision and see if there’s receptiveness to it.”

Fulcher, a commercial real estate agent, spent 24 years in high tech, working at Micron Technology for 15 years, followed by nine years as vice president of sales and marketing for Preco Electronics; he grew up on a Meridian dairy farm. He was appointed to the Idaho Senate in 2005 by then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne after the resignation under pressure of then-Sen. Jack Noble amid an ethics scandal. Fulcher said, “I’m more interested in doing what I believe is right than what’s popular. The day that I can’t look myself in the mirror and say that, look, regardless of the circumstances, I stood up for what I believe, then that’s the day I need to be gone.”

In the Senate, where Fulcher is seen as a rising leader of the GOP’s most conservative wing, he’s been an opponent of granting anti-discrimination protections to gays; sponsored successful legislation to make assisted suicide a felony; opposed legislation strengthening state day-care licensing as “government intrusion;” backed highway bonding plans that upgraded I-84 in his district; and sponsored a 2007 law requiring parental consent for minors’ abortions.

Fulcher looking at challenging Gov. Otter in GOP primary

Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, says he filed preliminary paperwork Saturday for a primary challenge to GOP Gov. Butch Otter; the Idaho Statesman reported that Fulcher said he was motivated in part by his opposition to Otter's push for a state health insurance exchange. Click below for a full report from the AP and the Statesman.

Fulcher, 51, is a fifth-term state senator who is currently Senate majority caucus chairman; in December of 2010, he lost a race for the top GOP Senate leadership post, Senate president pro-tem. A former Micron executive who is now in the commercial real estate business, Fulcher holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Boise State University; he is married with three children.

“Today, I am submitting the appropriate paperwork to begin the exploratory process,” he said in a statement. “I will treat this process with the utmost seriousness and humility it requires. From listening to citizens from across the state to meeting with key community activists, I plan to take this time to seek wise counsel and determine if I am the right person to help Idaho grow while preserving its rich heritage and traditions.”

Idaho Bill Would Ban Assisted Suicide

State lawmakers have opened the door to an end-of-life debate this session with legislation to ban assisted suicide in Idaho. Republican Sen. Russ Fulcher introduced a bill Friday that would make it a felony to assist in the suicide, or attempted suicide, of another person. The Fulcher bill, introduced in the Senate State Affairs Committee, says there is a national effort under way to create a “right” to assisted suicide for people who are dying and his bill aims to keep that movement from encroaching upon Idaho, which is already surrounded by states that allow some form of assisted suicide/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Do you support this legislation that would ban assisted suicide in Idaho?