Majority Caucus chair, State Senator Russell Fulcher, is doing a favor for the voting public as well as the media by challenging incumbent Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter in a contest for the Republican nomination. He could also be doing Otter a favor.
For 104,000 Idahoans who would be eligible for an expanded Medicaid program, however, Fulcher is ensuring their needs will not be met. Real suffering even unnecessary deaths, will occur.
By challenging his party’s sitting governor what looked like a dull run-up to a third almost uncontested term suddenly has created the magic “buzz” candidates and their campaigns like to generate, but few do.
The Meridian senator has already generated extensive coverage by a media desperate for the good copy a hotly contested race between Tea Party conservatives and status quo regular Republicans will provide.
The media loves intra-party fights.
Now the perception (whether true or not) is a real horse race is shaping up. The result should be more scrutiny of the candidates, their issues and stances. An attentive voter can be the beneficiary if this translates into a more informed vote.
Many political pundits were surprised by the Otter campaign’s bland response to Fulcher’s announcement which more or less said “we’ll see you down the road.” If ever there is a good time for an incumbent to start defining his challenger its right at the get-go when they announce.
Governor Otter’s campaign manager, the normally competent Jayson Ronk, missed one of the best opportunities to frame what the race will be all about.
Fulcher will sound a familiar theme borrowed from Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1964 Presidential race: “a choice, not an echo!”
Like Tea Party candidate Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls attorney challenging Rep. Mike Simpson in the second congressional district, he will claim he is the true conservative, not the incumbent.
The glib five-term State Senator from District 22 is counting on true blue Republicans (Only those previously registered as R’s will be able to vote in the May primary) responding to his message that the Governor sold the state down the river by registering Idaho’s insurance exchange with the hated ObamaCare program.
The real victims of Fulcher’s challenge, however, will be the estimated 104,000 Idahoans eligible for Medicaid under new rules being promulgated. In addition this expansion would greatly relieve most every county’s indigent fund that pays a large share of the cost for medical treatment that the poor cannot afford. For Fiscal Years 2014, 2015 and 2016 the Federal government would pay 100% of this expansion cost estimated to be $750 million each year. (more…)