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Eye On Boise

Crapo’s Democratic challenger counts on math, ‘moral analysis’

Jerry Sturgill (Sturgill campaign)
Jerry Sturgill (Sturgill campaign)

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By Betsy Z. Russell

Jerry Sturgill says math got him into the race against longtime Idaho GOP Sen. Mike Crapo, because he believes the numbers show that even as a Democrat and a first-time candidate, he can win.

“There are enough votes,” said the Boise businessman, an attorney and investment banker who’s been active in Democratic politics.

Crapo’s election record is formidable: He took 71.2 percent of the vote in his last re-election bid in 2010, and a full 99.2 percent in 2004, when no Democrat filed for the ballot against him, leaving him with only a write-in challenger.

Though Republicans dominate all of Idaho’s top elected offices, Sturgill, 63, says the Idaho electorate “really breaks into thirds.” He describes those as the consistent Republicans, the consistent Democrats, and a third in the middle, “the independents and the ticket-splitters and the persuadables.”

“It’s really not that big of a number,” Sturgill said. “And to get there, I just need to go talk to the people who can be persuaded,” to add them to “the Democratic base that I can count on.”

One of his biggest criticisms of Crapo is that Crapo endorsed Trump, which Sturgill calls “mind-boggling.” He said, “The Trump-Pence ticket does not represent our Idaho values. Especially for people of faith, Donald Trump does not come anywhere near to representing our Idaho values.”

Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus, called Sturgill’s analysis for Democrat running statewide in Idaho “an optimistic view.”

“But his first challenge, I think, is name recognition,” Weatherby said. “It’s late in September – it’s just weeks away from the general election.”

Sturgill is a fifth-generation Idahoan who holds both bachelor’s and law degrees from Brigham Young University. He’s worked as a corporate lawyer and investment banker in New York; founded his own firm in Boise; and served as CEO for two companies, a 500-employee regional armored transit and ATM servicing company, and a major food manufacturing company. In 2010, he joined Headwaters MB, a financial services firm, as a managing director.

“I’m a businessman who’s run companies,” Sturgill said. “Two things are important to me: Integrity and finding solutions.”

He’s also been active in community, education and civic groups, and serves as a bishop in the LDS church.

Crapo is a member of the same church, and Sturgill makes it clear that he believes Crapo has been changed by his long years in the nation’s Capitol, evidenced in part by Crapo’s 2013 DUI conviction. The church forbids alcohol consumption.

Sturgill said in addition to his mathematical analysis of the race, he conducted a “moral analysis.” That included the incumbent’s personal behavior and support for Trump and the role of big money in politics.

“A lot of the money that Crapo has (for his campaign) he’s gotten from the very banks that he’s supposed to regulate,” Sturgill said. “In the business world, that would be called a bribe.”

Sturgill says his top issues are public lands, education and the economy.

“People are just sick of how poorly Washington has performed, how ineffectual our Congress has become,” he said. “We need people in Washington who are not going to be influenced by money.”

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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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