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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

On playing politics…

Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai said, "This is not a time for us to play the politics, it's a time for us to look at what's best for Idahoans." Yet, it's also a year in which every seat in the Legislature is up for election, legislative districts are in flux due to redistricting, and the state's first closed GOP primary is looming in May. Asked how they can avoid playing politics this year, legislative leaders from both parties had an array of answers.

"I don't think it's going to be hard," said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston. "You develop a ... vision of where you want to go, and that means you have to talk to each other. ... You ought to agree where you're going: Good jobs, sound educational system, middle class that's strong and vibrant, place you can bring your kids back to for jobs and schools. All of those things are values we should share."

Said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, "I'm just not that cynical about it. I think that most legislators, most of the time, are interested in doing what's best for the citizens of Idaho. ... We're not enemies, we're friends and we're public servants, and we want to do what's best for the state of Idaho. Occasionally you see some political games being played. ... I think you'll see some good collaboration."

Malepeai said the Legislature is like a sports team. "We have a goal to win, and there are many plays in the play book. If a team doesn't work as a team, we're not going to win the game."

House Speaker Lawerence Denney said, "There are politics played in every session, and certainly I don't expect this to be any different, but I don't expect this to be a lot worse than normal." When his comment was greeted with laughter, Denney said, "I really don't." He added, "If there's a certain individual that is standing up trying to play to the television camera ... we know it and they're pretty quickly ridiculed and set down on their own."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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