Some readers have asked for my preferences in the May 15th Primary. Here’s my list. First, in full disclosure I voted an absentee unaffiliated ballot and it's been posted and mailed. I like the convenience of vote by mail and in this highly charged partisan environment it avoids any conflicts or snide asides at the polling place.
Democrat for Governor: A.J. Balukoff, hands down. An experienced and successful businessman and one who can work across the aisle. He learned much from his first gubernatorial campaign four years ago. And he is the only candidate running positive looking forward and support public education tv ads. Depending on who wins the GOP primary, A.J.just might surprise in November.
Former Rep. Paulette Jordan simply is not ready to be chief executive of a state. She has zero management experience and is more attracted to publicity than to solving tough problems. It says something when none of her former legislative colleagues have endorsed her.
Republican for Governor: I have vacillated on this one. I was so disappointed to see Brad Little join Tommy Ahlquist in going with awful, distortive negative tv ads. I’ve been tougher on Ahlquist, however, partly because I see enormous room for growth.
Its been fascinating however to watch the alleged front-runner, Raul Labrador get put on the defensive by Ahlquist’s attack ads. He’s badly mishandled it.
Face it. Idaho’s been stuck in a rut for the last few years, just poking along being too comfortable with the status quo. While Idaho’s economy is doing well we continue to underfund public education. As a percentage of household income we continue to slide.
Yet all three GOP candidates are paying allegiance to the God of tax cuts that are not needed and can only come at the expense of public education. In Ahlquist I see real potential to break out of that restrictive mold. He has talent, charisma, ability and charm. Yes, he will have to figure out how to work with a cantankerous, head in the sand legislature but he’s a quick learner.
Besides, the good ole boy network within the GOP has been passing the governorship along to party loyalists for 24 years. Their system has produced one good governor, Phil Batt, one mediocre governor, Butch Otter, one AWOL governor, Dirk Kempthorne, and one who set the state back 20 years (Risch). It’s time for a fresh face not from the traditional pool.
Ahlquist tells it straight and while I don’t think he had to go negative he is the only one of the three that exhibits enthusiasm and is not pretending to be something he is not. If he takes 50% of the 40% undecided he wins.
GOP Lt. Governor: There’s only one choice and that is State Senator Marv Hagedorn from Meridian. In the race for governor and lt. governor he is the only veteran having served as a Naval officer for 20 years. Following retirement he went into and founded a successful business. He is the only candidate for the second spot that can lay claim to what Cece Andrus referred to as the “hook and bullet” crowd, those that own an Idaho hunting and fishing license. He’s had one for 45 years.
He’s the only candidate that wouldn’t let State Senator Bob Nonini squirm and waffle away on Nonini’s much quoted statement that any woman having an abortion should be punished. He looked Nonini right in the eye and in effect said you can’t blame the media or say you were misquoted. You’re on the record saying it in several places. Kudos to him. He deserves your vote.
GOP Nomination for First CD: David Leroy is heads above everyone else. His experience as state attorney general and lt. governor shows. He is a constitutional conservative who can work with others, has a superior grasp of the issues, doesn’t engage in demagoguery and will bring intelligence and thoughtfulness to the complex challenges America faces.
He’s a true happy warrior on the campaign trail. He doesn’t hesitate to walk into a room or a restaurant and introduce himself. He meets and greets well looking every voter in the eye. It is easy to see why he came so close to upsetting Cecil Andrus in 1986. Former State Senator Russ Fulcher is running a close second supported almost entirely by the hard right Club for Growth which has underwritten Fulcher’s tv.
Leroy has run a better campaign and is better organized which is why he will emerge as the First District congressman elect on May 15th. It will be good for Idaho to have his services once again.
We’ll see on the morning of May 16th how good a prognosticator I am. One thing for certain there will be some surprises.