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The case for Fulcher

mansfield DENNIS

Many states are preparing to soon hold their Primary elections. Throughout the western states, the primaries are often held in the spring. For some states, like Arizona, their races for party nominations are held at the end of summer.

In Idaho, this party-centric nominating election is held in late May.

The two races that seem to capture the lion’s share of attention and news in Idaho are the GOP Primary races for Attorney General and Governor.

I’ve already covered the Attorney General race – stating that Christ (pronounced Chris) Troupis would make fine NEW attorney general. The incumbent’s tenure has simply been too long. (Having advocated term limits and fought a dying battle on behalf of them in Idaho, I STILL believe that elected officials MUST return home – either by force of law or force of vote.)

Regarding Governor, the case is the same.

Idaho’s sitting Governor, Butch Otter, and I have known each other for 23, almost 24 years. Many of those years have been friendly years – only distancing ourselves for a brief period of time when one another got in the way of the other’s mutually-desired GOP nomination to US Congress – a dozen-plus years ago. He won. I endorsed him the very next day and worked to see him get elected three times as Congressman and then twice as Governor. I have a deep affection and fondness for Butch and Lori Otter.

I also have a deep, decades-long friendship with Russ Fulcher and his family. I write about Russ in my book Beautiful Nate.

Originally, since neither candidate had asked for my endorsement, I withheld it. I just sat and watched – until this week.

Maybe it was today being Tax Day, maybe it was just my nature to think long and then act …

Today I decided to act and endorse State Senator Russ Fulcher for the GOP nomination for Governor of Idaho.

Here’s why:

Governor Butch Otter made two large blunders.

First, he embraced (and then led on) the state healthcare insurance exchange plan. He had a chance to be the Butch Otter many Idahoans have come to know and appreciate. Oddly, Butch Otter failed to BE Butch Otter on this major issue, failing to join many of his fellow GOP governors as they stood against it.

Second, he decided to run a third time as governor.

The first blunder has affected all Idahoans – the healthcare insurance exchange. The debate on that issue was well stated during the legislative session. Butch’s forces won. Idahoans lost.

Their insurance premiums, now due, reflect that loss – for many, but not all Idahoans.

My guess is that the number of affected conservative Republican individuals will be represented closely by the turn-out of primary voters who vote in favor of Senator Russ Fulcher.

Russ Fulcher has anchored his campaign to letting Idahoans know about this blunder. He’s been unrelenting. His campaign has been hard charging. In essence, Russ Fulcher is saying on the campaign trail what he said in the State Senate as he repeatedly stood and debated – there’s a better path than what Governor Otter decided to take.

Russ’ message is resonating with the needed amount of Idahoans.

It’s a relatively small pool of voters that will vote to determine if Butch Otter receives a third term. And many if those folks are clearly upset – Sen. Fulcher will receive their vote.

The other blunder was in deciding to run a third time. American politics is rooted in change. Elected officials need to run, win, serve and then leave. Butch has done all but one of those things on the voters’ bucket list.

Powerful interests are in a comfort zone with the possibility of his third term.

And have you noticed, there’s a sense of deja vu to their race?

The race between Mr. Otter and Mr. Fulcher has some interesting parallels to the 1st District U.S. Congressional race in 2010 which swept a relatively little-known local legislator into office and then into the national spotlight… now-Congressman Raul Labrador. I had an unusual perch from which to participate in that primary race, as the primary campaign spokesman for Labrador for Congress.

Let’s see how they rank together.

The GOP establishment weighed in heavily on the favorite and distanced itself from the challenger. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger’s endorsement by the Tea Party was key to voter turnout. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger, though unknown to many, seemed a likely next-best choice to the candidate they KNEW they didn’t want. 2010: check. 2014: check.

Social media’s role in an under-dog race avoids traditionally expensive primary campaign costs. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger has an army of local moms and dads who have enlisted for short-term service. The incumbent has a paid staff. Big difference. 2010: check. 2014: check.

Identical situation? No. Close? Well, yes.

Butch Otter has been friendly and kind to many people, including my family and me – it’s his nature. Butch is no stranger to anyone.

But people aren’t voting for a friend. They’re voting for a governor. Voters want their leaders to stand tall against special interests and in favor of their pocket books and then get off the stage for the next act to take over.

Russ Fulcher is that next act and he will do that. It’s why I am endorsing him for Governor of Idaho.

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