Former Congressman Larry LaRocco, who’s running against current Gov. Jim Risch for the lieutenant governor’s post in the November election, charged today that Risch is “taking Idaho voters for granted” by refusing to debate his opponent in a variety of settings, including the traditional “Idaho Debates” sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Idaho Press Club on Idaho Public TV. Risch turned down the Nov. 1 statewide debate, and opted to debate LaRocco only in another televised matchup sponsored by KTVB-TV, saying he didn’t have time for more than one debate.
LaRocco held a press conference today and released a six-page summary of campaign activities by the 26 states’ sitting governors who are seeking re-election that he culled from Internet research, including several who have agreed to multiple debates with their challengers. “Jim Risch is the only one who claims he is too busy to debate and face the voters,” LaRocco said.
LaRocco called on Risch once again to meet him in the Nov. 1 debate; if Risch doesn’t participate, the debate will be canceled. Risch earlier asked the debate organizers to allow him and LaRocco to appear on-set separately, then turned down the debate entirely in favor of the KTVB debate. He’s since declined to comment on the debate issue.
Full disclosure here: I’m the president of the Idaho Press Club, one of the co-sponsors of the Idaho Debates, which are still going on. There will be live statewide debates in the races for Idaho attorney general (Oct. 18), Congress (Oct. 22 for 2nd District, Oct. 24 for 1st District), state superintendent of schools (Oct. 25) and governor (Oct. 29). In several of the races, the candidates also are facing off in other forums around the state.
LaRocco said he’s accepted invitations to appear with Risch at a League of Women Voters forum Oct. 17 in Moscow and in a KIDO radio debate in Boise, but Risch hasn’t committed to either. “It is time to challenge him to show up,” he said. “All it would take is an hour for him to show up on Nov. 1st and we can have that debate.”