Tom Arkoosh of Boise, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, will tell anyone who listens that he is not a politician. His actions tell a different story.
You “might” be a politician … if you are running against a former congressman, taking advice from the likes of Jim Jones and Betty Richardson, making political speeches and talking about his campaign with people who write about politics.
So, at the moment, Arkoosh is every bit of a politician. If he were anything else, he would be swallowed up by his opponent in the race, former Congressman Raul Labrador. But Arkoosh, who has a deep legal background, says partisan politics goes out the window if he is elected.
“The attorney general’s office is a law office, and it is not a political platform for anybody,” Arkoosh said. “He (Labrador) says in his website that he wants conservative legislators to know that they have a partner in the attorney general’s office. So, where does that leave people who are not conservative legislators?”
Arkoosh, who voted in the Republican primary so he could vote against Labrador, said he would not be running if Attorney General Lawrence Wasden won the GOP primary election. He had no hesitation going against Labrador when asked to file by Democratic party leaders.
“I do have concerns about Raul,” Arkoosh says. “What he is saying that if his cultural beliefs clash with the constitution, he will be spending state money fighting for his cultural beliefs.”
Labrador has said that he will stand up to the Biden administration in the effort to protect Idaho’s sovereignty. He has said he probably would have joined a Texas lawsuit challenging the validity of the last presidential election.
Winning the seat will be an uphill climb for Arkoosh. Democrats generally are no match for Republicans in statewide races. And while Labrador has his detractors, even within his party, he had a strong following in the First District that he represented in Congress.
But Arkoosh says he can win if voters keep some factors in mind. “If people remember that this is an office where policy is not crafted, but an office where the people’s attorney administers the law to the best of his or her ability, in accordance to what the law is. If people remember, and understand, that his political positions are only going to cause chaos. Chaos may feed his political ambitions by keeping his name in the papers, but it does not serve that office. I do believe he will turn that office into a campaign office for the obvious next office. I do believe he has gubernatorial ambitions.”
When it comes to experience with the law, Arkoosh says that Labrador is no match.
Arkoosh has been a prosecutor, a defense attorney and is well familiar with state and federal courts. “I have a tremendous amount of experience in commercial and administrative litigation. I have significantly more experience, and more breadth and depth in the law by far than my opponent.”
He also has expertise in water, which he describes as the “lifeblood” for Idaho.
“My opponent is aware that there is water in the Potomac, that’s about it,” Arkoosh says. “With the dwindling supply of fresh water across the West, it is essential that the Idaho attorney general understands how to fight off moves by the federal government and our surrounding states to gain control of Idaho’s water. We simply cannot afford to have a pliable greenhorn in charge of that fight.”
One sure area of contention between the candidates is over abortion rights, an issue that is before Idaho’s Supreme Court. Labrador, a longtime “pro-life” advocate, has shown support for Idaho’s virtual abortion ban. Arkoosh describes Idaho’s law as being “sloppily” written.
“Any replacement law should, at a minimum, allow for abortion when the pregnant woman is facing severe health damage or risk of death if forced to continue the pregnancy,” Arkoosh wrote. “This is required not only by standards of decency, but also by federal law. Idaho will only keep paying for losing lawsuits as long as it refuses to protect women’s health. Instead of intimidating doctors with severe criminal penalties, the law should set out a reasonable standard of care for doctors to follow.”
To put it mildly, the contrast between the candidates is stark. This is the headline race of this election cycle, without question.
ctmalloy@outlook. Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at email@example.com