Opposition to Obamacare and Common Core are two of the hooks Sen. Russ Fulcher has used to attract conservative voters in May’s gubernatorial primary race. But he says the “fun part” of his challenge to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is discussing his vision for the state, which goes beyond ideology.
He’s thinking big and dreaming even bigger. As he sees it, Idaho is sitting on a gold mine of untapped wealth and prosperity – the kind that could put Idaho on the same economic path as North Dakota, Wyoming and other energy exporters that have bulging state revenues.
“It’s a game changer,” he said. “Washington and Payette counties have natural gas that is pure and plentiful, and a lot of it is on private land. We haven’t done anything with the resources we have, but we know they are there. There’s no reason why Idaho can’t be powered with Idaho’s natural gas and generate all of the benefits that come with it.”
He says that the natural gas could be harvested with little, if any, environmental impact and no fracking.
The holdup, he said, is with the state – not the federal government. “It’s the state that’s putting up hurdles in front of private individuals who want to develop this resource.”
Fulcher says that, as governor, he would provide the leadership to open the doors to a new industry and a new era of prosperity. “It’s a matter of getting with the Department of lands and saying, ‘here’s your charter: Knock down those hurdles and let’s get this thing cranking.’”
North Dakota, with its explosive growth, might not be such an attractive role model. But at least, Fulcher is talking and thinking beyond business as usual. It’s far more interesting than Otter’s bit part in a low-budget movie more than 20 years ago.
Fulcher has plenty to say about Otter – and not about movies.
“When I am talking with people at town hall meetings, I am hard pressed to find anyone who can identify a significant act the governor has led, other than the Obamacare health exchange – which is a bad accomplishment in my opinion,” he said. “From a personal standpoint, I have been in leadership for six of my 10 years here, so I am reasonably close to the governor’s office. There is no agenda, no direction and no major initiatives coming from the governor’s office. If you ask any legislator what his vision is for this state, I don’t think any of them could answer that. I don’t know what his vision is for the state, and I don’t know if the governor knows.”
Fulcher has thoughts on a host of other issues, including health care, education, public lands and wage issues. He says he’s getting favorable feedback on the campaign trail, but the news media have hardly noticed. With about two months before the primary election, he’s had one sit-down interview with a political reporter; that was with me last week, and I don’t do this for a living any more). Fulcher has had no meetings, nor invitations, with newspaper editorial boards. Town hall meetings in Coeur d’Alene and Nampa were not covered by the press; the Twin Falls paper ran only a photo and caption after his visit there. The Lewiston Tribune covered a recent town hall meeting in that city.
Randy Stapilus, longtime political reporter and colleague, suspects that reporters are waiting until the end of the legislative session before diving into the political races. “I might be overly generous in saying this,” he said.
I’m not as optimistic. Fulcher might meet with a few editorial boards, but much of the reporting will be confined to candidate surveys. In Idaho, there is not an abundance of reporters and editorial writers who have a grasp of the candidates, their personalities and the issues.
That’s too bad, because this is one primary race that deserves far more attention than it is getting.Share on Facebook