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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Our picks, part two, in Idaho’s GOP primary election

Idaho voters will go to the polls Tuesday to vote in their party primaries. The Spokesman-Review supports candidates who will focus their efforts on the numerous challenges facing the state, not wasting the state’s energies on rolling back the Affordable Care Act or gaining control of federal lands. Idaho’s schools and universities need funding and its roads rebuilding. Idaho’s economy will not grow robustly until those fundamental responsibilities have been met and prospective employers see a state with the workers and infrastructure they need to compete globally.

Today, we submit our endorsements in the Republican races for governor, lieutenant governor, controller, the Senate and one House race in District 3, and a District 4 House race. On Saturday, we published endorsements for attorney general, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, District 1 Senate and District 2 House.

Gov. Butch Otter says he’s seen as the enemy by people with whom he agrees on most issues. Governing brings out the pragmatist in politicians, and Otter has wisely chosen to pursue achievable goals, such as improving education and calling for transportation funding. His opponent, Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, wants to revisit old issues, such as Idaho Core Standards for schools (which he voted for) and dumping the state’s very successful insurance exchange, which is cheaper than the federal one that would replace it. His plan to boost the economy is gaining more control of federal lands. That’s not a plan. Otter is the clear choice.

The lieutenant governor’s race features the competent, knowledgeable incumbent Brad Little, who wants to continue doing that job, and Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik, who wants to use the position to proselytize on the public lands issue. The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and fills in for the governor when he’s absent. Little has demonstrated the agility to handle those tasks. He also supports Otter’s pragmatic agenda. Voters should advance him to the general election.

The controller has one overriding responsibility: make sure the state’s checks don’t bounce. Brandon Woolf has issued the checks since mid-2012, when Donna Jones resigned due to severe injuries sustained in a car accident. He has been in the office since a 1997 internship. Most of the job is routine, but Woolf launched Transparent.Idaho.gov, a very handy Web window into Idaho finances, including who gets paid what. The controller also sits on the state Land Board, which in 2009 granted opponent Todd Hatfield $70,000 in relief on a $203,000 timber purchase made in 2006. Woolf is clearly better-qualified.

In Legislative District 3, we support businessman Patrick Whalen against incumbent Sen. Bob Nonini, who has focused more on party infighting than getting things done in Boise, where he has alienated the party leadership, including Otter.

Rep. Frank Henderson is retiring and has endorsed Greg Gfeller, an Avista operations director, as his successor. We agree.

And in District 4, Sen. John Goedde faces a challenge from outspoken conservative Mary Souza, whose run for Coeur d’Alene mayor fell far short of success. Retain the thoughtful Goedde.

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