House Speaker Scott Bedke strongly endorsed Clive Strong for the Idaho Supreme Court today, joining former Speaker Bruce Newcomb, former state schools Superintendent Jerry Evans and a group of Strong supporters at a press conference on the steps of the Idaho Supreme Court. Bedke said it’s the only endorsement he’ll be making in the May 17 election, other than backing incumbent members of his House GOP caucus who are seeking re-election.
“As I look back over my legislative career over the last 16 years, wherever we’ve had a thorny issue and difficult issues to solve where the sides were seemingly a long ways apart, we’ve always been able to count on Clive, who has been the consummate problem solver,” Bedke said. “He’s a good negotiator, he’s a good mediator, and brings the skill set that I think is absolutely necessary to the Idaho State Supreme Court.”
Strong is in a four-way race for an open Supreme Court seat; he’s been the head of the Natural Resources Division of the Idaho Attorney General’s Office for the past three decades, and was the state’s lead attorney in the Snake River water rights adjudication. In the nonpartisan race, he faces Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez of Nampa; attorney Robyn Brody of Rupert; and state Sen. Curtis McKenzie, R-Nampa. If none of the four gets a majority on May 17, the two top vote-getters will go to a runoff in the November general election.
Bedke said of Strong, “I have a great working relationship with him. When we disagree, we do it in a very agreeable way, and we talk it out.” Bedke said Strong’s approach represents “the way we should all resolve our differences.”
At the press conference, Strong said he’s “humbled” by the bipartisan support he’s drawing, and released a list of more than 200 endorsements, including former Gov. Cecil Andrus, a Democrat, and former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican. “These individuals come from all walks of life and from every region of the state of Idaho,” Strong said. “Despite their differences, the surface and groundwater users in the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer are supporting me.” Those are the two opposing sides in the long-running water fight that affects much of the southern part of the state. “I also have support from elected officials, industry, business and the education community. I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support I have for my candidacy, and I am blessed to have this broad base of support.”
“I have full confidence in him,” Bedke said. “I think Idaho will be a better place with him on the Supreme Court.”
Newcomb, who served as House speaker from 1998 to 2006, said, “The one thing I’ve learned about Clive is that he’s a consummate public servant. He’s never had a client other than the people of Idaho.”
Evans, who was state superintendent of schools from 1979 to 1995, recalled serving on the state Land Board. “I was amazed at how many times different attorneys general relied on Clive Strong’s work and advice to help guide the work of the Department of Lands,” Evans said. “I can tell you that he is more than a student of the Constitution, he really understands the background and the words.” Evans added, “I encourage my friends in education across the state of Idaho to support Clive Strong in his bid for a seat on the Idaho Supreme Court.”
Strong has posted the full list of endorsements on his campaign website, strongjusticeforidaho.com. Here are links to the other candidates’ campaign websites: Robyn Brody’s site, brodyforsupremecourt.com; Judge Sergio Gutierrez’s site, vote4gutierrez.org; and Sen. Curt McKenzie’s site, mckenzie4Idaho.com.