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Posts published in “Day: May 11, 2022”

Not just lieutenant governor

malloy

The primary election race for lieutenant governor amounts to more than who Idaho Republicans want in the No. 2 position of state government, although that is an important thing to consider.

The bigger issue is that the primary race will determine who voters want as our next governor in four years. Will it be Rep. Pricilla Giddings of White Bird, or House Speaker Scott Bedke of Oakley?

This assumes that Gov. Brad Little will win re-election and not seek a third term – and, of course, there never are guarantees in politics. At this point, Little appears to be on track for defeating Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin. She has former President Trump’s endorsement, but he has not held rallies on her behalf or issued negative comments about Little. She has strong support from the GOP’s right wing, but has made little effort to expand her base.

If this were a normal year, when top elected officials in Idaho tend to be anointed rather than elected, you’d say that Bedke has paid his dues and that it was his time to move into the lieutenant governor’s office. Don’t expect anything flashy if he’s elected. He’d do what the Constitution prescribes – presiding over the Senate when the Legislature is in session and quietly serving as “acting governor” when Little is out of the state.

He’d also be an asset for the administration, opposed to a liability.
But there’s nothing “normal” about this election cycle with a fireball like Giddings in the mix. If she wins, expect her to carry on with what McGeachin started – calling out the governor for his “liberal” ways and labeling as “RINOs” the Senate’s president pro tem and other legislators who get low ratings on the Idaho Freedom Foundation scorecard.

Essentially, you could expect her to spend four years campaigning for the state’s highest office. If she gets to the governor’s chair, she would be the first woman to be elected to that position. Some would argue that she would be the first libertarian to win the office.

Do not under-estimate Giddings. She’s smart – a commodity not always found in politics. Her supporters are not consumed by her well-documented fallouts with Bedke over the years, ethics issues with fellow House members or publicly doxing a rape victim. To her supporters, she’s a “principled conservative” and that’s all that matters. She wants to put government on a diet, starting with repeal of the state’s grocery tax.

As a governor, don’t expect Giddings to have any kind of cordial relationship with the media – as other governors have had. Don’t expect the usual news conferences before, during or after legislative sessions. She has made it clear that she doesn’t have a high regard for the mainstream (liberal) media. But to Giddings’ core supporters, who also have a long-standing hate affair with the media, Giddings would provide the kind of leadership Idaho needs.

For Bedke, he’d also use four years as lieutenant governor as an audition for the governorship, but it would be more in a traditional fashion. More than likely, he’d be a working partner for the Little administration – as Little was to Gov. Butch Otter during his time as lieutenant governor. By the end of Bedke’s term, the governor likely would raise Bedke’s profile with an “important” assignment or two.

If Bedke gets to the governor’s chair, he’d be in the line with the likes of Little, Otter and Dirk Kempthorne – all of whom boasted about being conservative, but with a pragmatic side to governing.

The race for lieutenant governor is a classic clash between a fixture of the political establishment (Bedke) and a rebel (Giddings) who wants to put state government on a much different course.

Can she win this race? Absolutely … if the outcome is based on hard work and ability to rally supporters. If it comes down to money, and a stretch-run advertising blitz, then Bedke seems to have a sizeable advantage.

ctmalloy@outlook. Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com
 

Don’t be discouraged

jones

We often hear of folks who take advantage of tax breaks that some would view as unfair, but they can’t be faulted if the law specifically provides for the break. Or, say a government program provides a monetary grant or forgivable loan for pandemic relief. It is not dishonest to take the money if you qualify for funding under the law.

The same concept applies in a person’s exercise of the right to vote in an election. If the law specifically allows you to vote in an election, there is no shame in following the law. Yet, some hardline Republicans in Idaho claim independent voters have no right to vote in a Republican primary election. The fact is, they do have that right–it is specifically provided for under the law.

Extremists tried this last legislative session to make it harder for independents to vote in the GOP primary by taking away their right to register for the Republican primary between March 11 and May 17. That effort failed and rightly so. In a one-party state like Idaho, the primary is where officeholders are generally selected. If an independent were prevented from voting for the Republican candidate of their choice, they would have no voice in the electoral process.

And it isn’t as if the Republican Party was paying all the expenses to conduct their primary election. Every taxpayer in the State pays for the GOP primary and everyone should have the right to vote in it.

I was recently invited for an interview on a radio talk show to discuss why independent voters like me should be able to cast my ballot in the GOP primary on May 17. I grew up in the Republican Party but decided to opt out when it was clear that the Bush Administration was dead set on launching the disastrous war in Iraq. I’d volunteered to fight in Vietnam and knew that a war in Iraq was against America’s vital interests.

The interviewers asked why I thought I had the right to cast a vote in a GOP election when I was not a current member of the Party. My answer was that I had volunteered to fight for my country and earned the right to vote in any party primary that the law allowed. Every other Idahoan should have that same right. Otherwise, about half of Idaho voters would be deprived of a voice in the electoral process.

Some of the most belligerent voices against independents voting in the GOP primary are the top brass in the Kootenai and Bonneville County GOP Central Committees–Brent Regan, Doyle Beck and Bryan Smith. They also happen to be board members of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. They regard the GOP as their private playground. However, the three understand the concept of taking advantage of benefits made available under the law. Even though they are dead set against government money being doled out, calling it socialism, they were happy enough to request and spend bunches of the dole money. Smith got $205,200 of pandemic relief funds for his medical debt collection operations, Beck scarfed up $168,200 and Regan pocketed $74,800. All told, IFF fat cats grabbed over $2 million in “socialist” largesse.

If the law permitted these payments, I don’t suppose we can begrudge these folks for taking advantage of the taxpayer money. On the other hand, it is rather hypocritical of them to get all worked up about independents registering in the Republican primary in order to have a meaningful voice in our government, since the law says it is their perfect right to do so.

This is an extremely important election. There are currently two branches of the Republican Party in Idaho–the traditional, pragmatic branch and the new branch composed of culture warriors and other extremists. Every Idahoan eligible to vote must take part in this election to choose the future course of the GOP in Idaho. Voters can register right up until they walk into the polling place on May 17. Guides to the choices can be found on this newspaper’s website or by googling TakeBackIdaho.com.