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malloy CHUCK

In Idaho

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton

Sen. Russ Fulcher, fighting an uphill battle to end Gov. Butch Otter’s regime, should use this quote as his them for the stretch run of this primary election campaign.

This election is not about electing Fulcher as the Republican’s nominee for governor, or repealing Obamacare.

This race is about stopping a dictatorship.

No, it’s not the kind of dictatorship that produces oppression and mass killings. It’s about one man potentially holding power for a lifetime. Two terms – or at least two consecutive terms – is long enough for presidents and governors.

If Fulcher doesn’t take Otter out this year, then Idaho will be stuck with him – potentially for decades to come. Otter already has said he is not discounting running for a fourth term in 2018, which translates to this: He’ll run for a fourth term. Then a fifth term, a sixth term and beyond.

It’s not unusual for members of Congress to serve 12 years or more in office. But a senator or congressman is only one of 535 other members. They do not define the agenda, or the power structure, for the nation and states – as presidents and governors do.

When the same people are in power for so long, some very friendly relationships develop over time.
Looking at Otter’s campaign staff, he makes no effort to hide those relationships. His staff includes a representative of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s most powerful business lobby. It also includes a lobbyist with Veritas Advisors; a representative of the scandal-plagued private prison company, Corrections Corporation of America; and a former lobbyist for the troubled school broadband provider, Education Networks of America.

It’s not illegal for money machines to be working on campaigns. But it shows there’s a lot of big money people and organizations who have an interest in keeping Otter in power.

The Otter people have done a good job of convincing people that this race is over. I’m not so convinced that’s the case.

As it stands about 16 percent of Idaho eligible voters participate in the closed GOP primary elections. What happens if the percentage drops to 13 or 14? Fulcher has a pretty good idea where his support is and he’s confident that his supporters will get out to vote. I’m not sure where the passion is for Otter, beyond the big-money crowd.

I don’t agree with Fulcher on all issues. I’m skeptical about his insurance reform plans as a way to sidestep Medicare expansion and I’m no fan of the idea of Idaho taking over management of the federal lands. If he’s elected, it will be up to him to chart the course on those issues and prepare spirited debates. I have no fear of a governor pushing something I might not like.

What I do fear is a permanent power structure and the corruption that is certain to occur as a result. I don’t want a governor who is led out of office by handcuffs … a body bag.

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