Writings and observations

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff acknowledges that he hangs out mostly with his fellow Democrats. If he spent time in rural communities, and coffee shops not named Starbucks, he would know better than to take on the National Rifle Association – the sacred cow of special interests in Idaho.

Balukoff may well be correct about the NRA’s candidate survey being full of loaded questions, but he shouldn’t be surprised about that. The NRA is a defender of gun rights and many Idahoans love the organization because of that.

For a lot of Idahoans, the three most important issues in an election are: Guns, guns and guns. Rep. Raul Labrador’s town hall meetings often take on the flavor of an NRA convention. Of course, Balukoff would be the last person you’d see at a Labrador town hall meeting.
The NRA endorsement is the prized pig of any election season in Idaho. Even those who don’t get the NRA endorsement will talk about their avid support of the Second Amendment. But almost nobody takes on the NRA – except for Cecil Andrus, and Balukoff rightfully acknowledges is no Cecil Andrus.

According to a story by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey, Balukoff was advised by his campaign manager to stay silent on the NRA. So instead of following that advice, he issued a press release saying, “Special interests gave us Idaho’s guns on campus law.”

So under Popkey’s byline, Balukoff committed political suicide in the front page of the Idaho Statesman. How stupid can you get?

Balukoff ought to know the legislative chambers are full of people who think that universities, school classrooms, the streets and public places would be a lot safer if people who knew how and when to use guns were allowed to carry them. These lawmakers don’t need the NRA to tell them how to vote on gun issues.

If Balukoff was trying to do an impersonation of Andrus, who took on the gun lobby almost 30 years ago, it was a poor effort. Andrus is about the only person who could get away with calling NRA leaders “gun nuts.”

The shame of Balukoff’s effort is there is so much he can talk about. Idaho is last in wages and first in paying the minimum wage. The Gem State is at, or near, the bottom in almost all measures of education. The prison system is in dire need of reform. The governor and the Legislature refuse to expand the Medicaid system, which would save hundreds of millions of dollars over time. He could have plenty to say about the leadership, or lack of leadership, in the state. But by wasting political capital on the NRA, there isn’t a Republican between Bonner’s Ferry and Preston who’s going to want to work with Balukoff?

If Balukoff keeps this up, his next news release should be in the form of a concession statement.

Share on Facebook

Malloy

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Never having met or even talked with Idaho’s current attorney general, Lawrence Wasden, I have no compunction about offering some free political advice.

First, in reviewing opinions he has provided to the governor and through his deputies, to the various state agencies, he comes across as thoughtful, reasonable, prudent, and logical with a good dose of common sense. He is not overtly partisan, either. He reads the law with due deference to precedent, and gives solid advice.

Secondly, he displayed genuine political courage in reframing the upcoming primary campaign as a fight for the soul and the future of the Republican Party, with reasonable, sensible, moderate Republicans on one side and unreasonable, uncompromising, blindly ideological “wing nuts” (my choice of words, not his) on the other side.

He is absolutely correct.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw an op-ed in the
April 9th edition of the St.Maries Gazette-Record, written by an intelligent but nonetheless rock-solid right-winger in Benewah County, Ken deVries. He does his homework and he at least listens politely to those he disagrees with.

Ken charged the attorney general had aligned himself with the “take your guns away” crowd, led by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, when he signed off on Idaho filing an amicus brief in the case that led to the historic Heller vs. the District of Columbia ruling in a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That ruling, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing for the majority, was the first time the Court ever interpreted the Second Amendment to be a qualified right for an individual to keep and bear arms to protect himself and his property apart from the Constitutional language that appeared to tie that right only to keeping and maintaining a well armed militia.

For some yet to be adequately explained reason, the office of the Idaho Attorney General filed an amicus brief in the preceding case and joined with the likes of the attorney generals of states like New York and Massachusetts, and liberal “we-need-more gun control” mayors like Mayor Bloomberg.

In discussing the issue with the Gazette-Record’s publisher, Wasden’s office claimed a mistake was made, that they quickly withdrew the amicus brief, turned around and filed a brief supporting the ultimate majority view as expressed by Justice Scalia. I accept that explanation, but Wasden has to recognize there are still unanswered questions.

Is the lawyer who drafted the initial amicus brief still on staff? If so, why wasn’t he fired? Anyone with an ounce of sense looking at the other signers should have known Idaho didn’t belong in that company. Some may make the argument that the AG’s office essentially thought the brief which they temporarily joined was all about a state’s right to develop its own rules and regulations.

That argument though then leads to why a Mayor Bloomberg would be supportive – it also then gives a state or a city the implicit right to restrict the Second Amendment right even more than the slight qualifications Justice Scalia would allow for.

So where does the attorney general really stand? How did this brief even get out the door given the subject matter?

It would be so easy to put together a “hit ad” that could run just before the May 20th primary: show a picture of Michael Bloomberg and read off a couple of his pro gun control statements. Then, show his name on the brief, move the camera up a couple of slots and show Wasden’s name. Have a narrator ask “What’s our attorney general’s name doing with this crowd of gun control advocates? Now is not the time to weaken gun ownership. There is an alternative: Vote for Chris Troupis, a true supporter of the Second Amendment.” Wasden would be toast if he fails to handle this properly.

This is one of those true game changers that could lead to a primary upset.

From years of providing political counsel to successful office holders, here’s the advice:

Get out front quickly and frame the issue. Submit to an interview with one of several fair and balanced Idaho political reporters. Admit to poor oversight but say you corrected the matter quickly and fire the deputy attorney who was so politically tone deaf as to have created such an egregious misrepresentation of your views.

Then send a letter to National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre asking that he recognize an honest mistake; and, suggest the NRA let the voters decide whether he should be turned out of office without being subjected to an NRA financed campaign. The, restate your unequivocal support for Scalia and Heller vs. D.C.

If you move quickly you can turn this to your advantage. Here’s hoping you do so.

Share on Facebook

Carlson

news

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Bud Purdy dies (Boise Statesman, TF Times News)
Copies of Meridian’s controversial book sent (Boise Statesman)
State sues Potlatch, Clearwater on fire (Lewiston Tribune)
Risch land exchange bill on hold (Lewiston Tribune)
Report: Lewiston port promoting growth (Lewiston Tribune)
Moscow meeting covers substance abuse (Moscow News)
Moscow water bond approved (Moscow News)
Chaney won’t quit House race (Nampa Press Tribune)
CWI reviewing Canyon fair relocation (Nampa Press Tribune)
Meridian interchange work begins (Nampa Press Tribune)
Explosive from WWII at Pocatello’s airport (Pocatello Journal)
Sho-Bans win control of FMC site (Pocatello Journal)
Grace/North Gem school merger hearings (Pocatello Journal)
Legislators review session (Sandpoint Bee)
Hot sheriff’s race in Minidoka County (TF Times News)

Pot outlet bans sought in 71 cities (Corvallis Gazette Times)
Lane sheriff seeks Florence cop job (Eugene Register Guard)
Lane Community College short on funds (Eugene Register Guard)
OIT nears energy self-sufficiency (KF Herald & News)
Klamath commission forum planned (KF Herald & News)
Funding sought for Klamath basin research (KF Herald & News)
Ashland prohibits plastic bags (Medford Tribune, Ashland Tidings)
Kentucky man may head Medford schools (Medford Tribune)
Cover Oregon repairs under review (Medford Tribune)
Teachers hired at more-flush districts (Portland Oregonian)
OR job growth rising again (Portland Oregonian, Salem Statesman Journal)

Still looking for Oso mudslide causes (Everett Herald)
Mini-dam on Skykomish River discussed (Everett Herald)
State pressure could risk Hanford projects (Kennewick Herald)
Kennewick won’t annex 21 acres (Kennewick Herald)
Goldmark takes timber money (Longview News)
Post-AG complaint, Dish refunds $2m to customers (Longview News)
Big concerns about Puget loss of 1k Boeign jobs (Seattle Times)
Seattle metro tax proposal (Seattle Times)
Spokane asks for parks levy (Spokane Spokesman)
Voters may consider full-time Spokane council (Spokane Spokesman)
Tacoma council considers new hotel (Tacoma News Tribune)
Voters back competing gun proposals (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
I-205 plan may help with driving (Vancouver Columbian)

Share on Facebook

First Take