Larry LaRocco, Rex Rammell and Jim Risch debating in Lewiston
The Republican nominee for the Senate in Idaho, Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch, looked - to judge from the expression he wore - at the Lewiston three-way debate as if he was unhappy about being there. He may have calculated that if he showed up at the debates organized by his two main opponents, he would be the main target, attacked from left and right. If so, he was right. But the Lewiston rounds also left us with a much more nuanced sense of Risch, and what he's about.
It has put him in, strangely enough, the political middle. Or maybe, at times, outside the spectrum - not a bad place to be.
This was hammered in most strongly at one point, toward the end of the debate, when Lewiston Tribune editorialist Jim Fisher asked him if he was a far right conservative. Risch replied that "I am pro life, I'm a strong second amendment supporter - you weave all those together and ... I don't know that labels are something that works very well. On a given issue, I may have a feeling one way and on another I have a strong feeling that way ... I've had people classify me as a far right-winger and others classify me as leaning left ..."
That makes the first occasion in our recollection that Risch, given an opportunity (especially if given an invitation), failed to describe himself simply as a conservative. But then, what is conservatism nowadays? Democratic nominee Larry LaRocco described himself as a "moderate," and independent (and formerly a Republican candidate) Rex Rammell as a "down the line conservative." In 2008, Risch may actually be the hardest of the three to define. (more…)