Running from different sides

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In the many years that I’ve worked in politics, I’ve never quite seen a more curious start to a race for Governor than this year – in Idaho.

Both candidates appear to be running against Barrack Obama – from two different sides. Both want to be more pro-life than the other, as well.

One candidate is an incumbent who joined a small group of three Republican governors embracing Obamacare by developing/supporting a state run health exchange.

All other GOP governors in the US refused to do this.

Another candidate is wrapping his opponent in Obamacare, preparing – as it were – for a political burial at sea.

The sea is an apt description – for we may be about to observe a major sea-change regarding the incumbent’s tenure.

Yesterday’s exchange on abortion between Butch Otter and Russ Fulcher is a telling case in point. With Obama’s partial-birth aborting of his own political “signature-law offspring”, Butch Otter unwanted-ly could become an accessory to his own politi-cide – and Russ Fulcher knows it.

Senator Fulcher has regularly attacked Governor Otter, over these past few months, for the incumbent’s role in failing to stand with the other Republican Governors in direct opposition top Obamacare. Governor Otter sided with the insurance industry lobbyists in developing the state health exchange. The pro-life community asked him not to do it. He chose a different course.

Yesterday, the Governor attacked Senator Fulcher, attempting to wrap the most pro-life senator in the state Capitol as someone who would be inviting Planned Parenthood into the state to determine policy within a federal health exchange.

Hmmm, what?

Something is happening within the Otter camp – something is unnerving its handlers.

Otter doesn’t bother with political slap-fests. In many ways he’s always been above it. So this response by his camp is somewhat awkward to watch.

Having run against him, myself, for US Congress, I can tell you that he’s cool, calm and collected – always in control of events, causing things to happen without himself appearing to be struggling. He also makes things happen without it looking like he did anything to his opponents – in a sense, above the fray.

But Idaho’s demographics are changing – younger people who don’t think of Governor Otter as their friend are shying away from elected officials who were against Obamacare before they were for it – and they may see their new premiums as too huge to pay. My guess is they just may vote with their past-due premium notices, tucked inside their depleted checkbooks.

And it won’t be for Obamacare’s state exchange champion in Idaho.

The question is whether that total of discontented individuals will number 50%+1 in the GOP Primary….

It’s a strange thing to think that one of the winning-est politicians in Idaho history may have stayed on stage once too long – even for people who like him. Over the years people have come to think of Butch as their friend – due to his gregarious nature. Lori Otter is one of the nicest people in politics – a teacher with a heart of gold. Butch and Lori have been kind to my family. Even after he deeply wounded my own political career, I like the man.

But every product has a shelf life.

Fulcher, on the other hand, is a nice enough guy – but make no mistake, he’s not a back slapper. He won’t pull up a bar-stool to get a vote. He’s all business and works accordingly. I’ve known Russ Fulcher for 23 years, mentored him for a while, travelled to Israel the first time because of him, prayed with him during the difficult birth of his daughter and loved his family. I mention in my family memoir how he was a major part of my oldest son’s life.

As a pro-life leader in Idaho during the 90’s and as a founding board member of Idaho’s premier and most-respected pro-life advocacy group, I see this attempt by Butch Otter’s handlers against Russ Fulcher as reactionary. Though I do not speak for the group, my personal comment is simple: this won’t wash. And it’s beneath the Governor to do so. It ranks as politically goofy as my own attack in 2000 against Butch for his stand against the EPA. I was dead wrong then, Butch is dead wrong here.

I’m not sure who the political consultants are in either camp, but the Otter Campaign stepped on a land mine with Obamacare – with the help of insurance lobbyists – and the ongoing effects of that injury are severe. That political leg is now missing. The question is whether he’s slowly politically bleeding to death or not.

The specter of Butch Otter being defeated in the May 2014 GOP Primary is real. Russ Fulcher may not be who voters vote FOR, but Butch Otter will be the candidate they vote AGAINST.

The closed GOP primary, the Tea Party, the cancelled health polices, the stench of lobbyists – may all combine to prove that President Obama was Butch Otter’s worst-ever running mate.

My guess is that Otter’s pollsters see it already and have reacted via this initial forceful attack.

Otherwise they’d ignore Russ Fulcher.

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