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Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: Spirited debate in race for Secretary of State

BOISE – They may be lower-profile state offices, but there were lively debates last week in the races for Secretary of State and Lieutenant Governor.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa faced Democratic challenger Mack Sermon, who championed vote-by-mail, saying Idaho would save “millions,” and called for election reforms. Ysursa said he’s proud of his record, and objected – though only mildly – when Sermon said he thought his current job as a college debate coach was just as complicated as serving as secretary of state.

Ysursa said he thought it was important to debate his challenger: “I truly believe that participation is the essence of democracy.”

In the lieutenant governor’s debate, incumbent Brad Little faced off with Democratic challenger Eldon Wallace, and there were some quick points of agreement. Both said they wouldn’t veto bills the governor wanted signed when the governor is out of town – as then-Lt. Gov. Butch Otter did in 1987 on raising Idaho’s drinking age. Both also endorsed all three constitutional amendments regarding municipal debt that are on the November ballot.

The debates were part of “Idaho Debates,” sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Idaho Press Club and broadcast live on Idaho Public Television. Still to come in the series: the governor’s debate Oct. 28.

Batt endorses Labrador

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt has issued the following statement on the 1st Congressional District race:

“Walt Minnick has made some courageous votes in Congress, usually reflecting the views of most Idahoans. Nevertheless, it is imperative that this nation reverse the headlong rush toward fiscal insolvency taking place under the Democratic leadership. We must replace Speaker Pelosi and her crew of Democrats. Therefore, I am endorsing Mr. Raul Labrador for Congress. I supported Mr. Labrador’s opponent in the primary election and had intended to refrain from public comment during the period leading to the general election. But Mr. Minnick’s dishonest attempt to warp Mr. Labrador’s views on illegal immigration have prompted me to break my silence. I’m backing Raul Labrador for congressman from Idaho’s 1st District.”

Allred opposes mega-loads

Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred has come out against the proposed mega-loads of oil equipment proposed to travel by truck along Idaho’s narrow and scenic U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho, for which Otter has been an enthusiastic proponent. “In an Allred administration, these trucks wouldn’t get permits,” Allred said. “There simply are not good enough answers to the questions Idaho citizens have raised about these shipments.”

Allred said Otter “doesn’t have a solution for the potential problems that might arise with the shipments,” from a crash into the river to medical emergencies along the temporarily blocked road; the loads are so wide they’d take up both lanes of the two-lane route.

They’re running, too

The third-party and independent candidates in Idaho’s major races get less attention, but some are campaigning just as hard. Here’s a look at the three other candidates for governor, beyond incumbent GOP Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger Keith Allred:

• Jana Kemp , 45


Bio: Business owner for 17 years, providing decision-making workshops and conference presentations; author of five books on business and decision-making; GOP state representative from Boise, 2005-’06; bachelor’s degree, Principia College; married, one child.

Campaign promises: “As governor I will bring an end to the good ol’ boy decision making structure that is not looking out for the best interests of our whole state. As governor I will build businesses and education so that we have a great place to work and live.”

Notable: Kemp graduated from the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training Academy in 2002, holds a concealed weapons permit, and has done some of her campaigning at gun shows.

Pro-Life,” formerly Marvin Richardson, 69


Bio: Organic farmer, mostly of strawberries; has run for office multiple times; legally changed name to “Pro-Life” in 2008; former accountant, miner, parts salesman; bachelor’s degree, Brigham Young University; married, 15 children and 25 grandchildren.

Campaign promises: “I will stop pre-born baby murder in Idaho, I will veto all socialist legislation, and I will work to stop the fascist licensing of professions and occupations.”

Notable: Every Sunday, year-round, he and family members stand at one of various busy intersections in the region with signs protesting abortion. “I don’t even hold a sign that says ‘Pro-Life for Governor,’ because I’d rather save a baby than get some votes,” he said.

• Ted Dunlap , 61


Bio: Goodwill store supervisor; second run for governor; former Hewlett-Packard employee; attended Sonoma State University; Air Force veteran; married, seven children, nine grandchildren

Campaign promises: “As governor, I will reduce government size, cost and intrusion. I will increase your control over your money and your life.”

Notable: Served as Idaho Libertarian Party chairman, 2003-’06

And so are they

A couple of third-party and independent candidates also are vying for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democrat Walt Minnick, who faces a challenge from GOP hopeful Raul Labrador.

Dave Olson, 58 Independent

Bio: U.S. Air Force master sergeant, retired in 1992 after 22 years of service; second run for Congress; bachelor’s degree, University of Idaho, 2004; worked in hotel/casino security in Las Vegas, 1992-’97; single.

Campaign promises: “Put America first. Bailouts, corruption, unaccountable leadership and individuals who are above the laws of our nation cannot longer be tolerated.”

Notable: Olson filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that a Minnick congressional mailing highlighting his constituent service work was improper; the FEC dismissed the complaint as groundless.

Mike Washburn


Could not be reached for information. His website says: “I have one goal, one agenda. And that is to reduce the size of government.”

More endorsements

Labrador has won the endorsement of the American Conservative Union PAC, whose director, Larry Hart, called Labrador “the clear conservative choice for Idaho’s First District,” and lauded his record in the Idaho Legislature.

Meanwhile, Minnick has won the endorsement of the National Federation of Independent Business, whose vice president, Lisa Goeas, said Minnick’s “commitment to Idaho’s Main Street businesses speaks for itself,” and lauded his votes in Congress against health care reform and cap-and-trade legislation.

Labrador releases his own poll

Labrador has released his own internal poll showing Minnick leading him 37 percent to 31 percent, with 6 percent each for Dave Olson and Mike Washburn and 21 percent undecided or favoring none of the candidates. The poll was conducted by Moore Information, which also did Labrador’s July 15 poll that showed Minnick leading Labrador by 10 points, 37-28 percent, with 26 percent undecided.

“The momentum is with us,” said Labrador, who said he was “delighted” with his latest poll results.

The independent Idaho Newspapers Poll, conducted Sept. 13-15 by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, showed Minnick leading Labrador 46-36 percent.

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