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Posts published in “Malloy”

An investigative legacy?

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Assuming this term will be Gov. Butch Otter’s last, it would be a good time for him to be thinking about his place in Idaho’s history. That is, of course, if this ends up being his last term.

But legacy building is taking an ugly detour as a result of the Idaho Education Network broadband contract, which was thrown out in court and the private-prison contract with Corrections Corporation of America, which is under investigation with the FBI. Administration of contracts could be one of the big issues heading into the next legislative session. Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Bone, who chairs the House State Affairs Committee, has told the Post Register he is looking into investigating the IEN issue.

One person who is not letting the broadband issue go away is Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who is giving the administration plenty of heartaches. Earlier this month, the Midvale Republican circulated a statewide column discussing the broadband contracts and pointing fingers in high places.

“I am not going to let this go away and I don’t think the people of Idaho should let it go away,” said Boyle, who has gained the attention from fellow conservatives and Democrats.

As one of the more conservative members of the Legislature, Boyle says “no” to a lot of things. The broadband contract was not one of them. She sees the value of connecting schools, libraries and state agencies with high-speed Internet and didn’t blink at the $60 million contract.

“Correctly done, it brings the world to Idaho students and citizens, especially in the rural areas,” Boyle said in her commentary. “However, when it becomes illegal and corrupt, I must speak out.”

As with the national debt, the costs for the illegal contracts keep climbing in the form of withheld federal funds and legal fees. And it’s all as a result of former Director of Administration Mike Gwartney, Otter’s right-hand man early in his governorship, changing the terms of the contract – eliminating Syringa, which was supposed to share in proofing the broadband connections. Quest’s name was left on the contract.

Boyle sees the arrangement as an example of “crony capitalism,” which gives special favors to campaign donors. In this case, Boyle says, “the children of Idaho will be the losers” in the deal.

Boyle says her commentary was only a start. The solution is for the Legislature, and possibly the state Department of Education, to investigate further. She has an ally in Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne of Boise.

“The Legislature needs to stand up and make sure the money is appropriated and spent properly,” he said.
On the CCA contract, he said, “how did we get in a position where we went for a long period of time with the contractor submitting false billings to us?”
Burgoyne and Boyle are miles apart on many legislative issues, but he admires Boyle for keeping the issue in the forefront.

“Representative Boyle has always stepped up and told people exactly what she thinks,” Burgoyne said. “She’s courageous and outspoken. She does not mislead anybody about what she thinks and her intentions. Those are very good attributes.”

Somewhere, the late former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth – Boyle’s longtime mentor, employer and friend – must be smiling.

Souza and the Senate

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

When Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene begins her first session next month, she says she plans to keep her head down, stay quiet and not make waves.

“That will probably last about 15 minutes,” she said laughing.

Souza, who has been a constant thorn to the side of public officials in Coeur d’Alene, hardly fits the profile of “quiet and shy.” Her personality is more suited to leaping tall buildings and tearing down trees – in the name of truth, justice and ridding the planet of political corruption. Two years ago, she spearheaded the unsuccessful efforts to recall Mayor Sandi Bloem and three members of the Coeur d’Alene City Council – essentially painting them and Lake City Development Corporation (the city’s urban renewal agency) as crooks who were robbing from the taxpayers for the benefit of political cronies. Souza’s relentless fury especially was stinging to Bloem, who is more like the Lake City’s favorite grandma than Al Capone.

This year, Souza experienced defeat and victory in the political arena – getting trounced in a mayor’s race, then defeating longtime Sen. John Goedde in last May’s Republican primary election. Souza was a clear beneficiary of Idaho’s closed primaries, which tends to favor more conservative candidates.

Now, this community gadfly – who built her name by making noise and stepping on toes – steps into a different world. Souza now is part of the political establishment. Complaints and late-night phone calls, which go with the territory of an elected official, will now be directed at her.

The target is on her back, but as Souza sees it, that’s nothing new. A person doesn’t go after the mayor, three council members and an established agency such as LCDC without getting some bruises along the way. She says her attacks have never been meant to be personal and adds that some people who meet her say, ‘You’re actually nice.’ That’s a hard line to swallow for the public officials who have been subjected to Souza’s wrath.

Strangely, her critics are not talking openly about Souza going to the Senate. Bloem says she’s “the wrong person to ask.” Former councilman Mike Kennedy, who was subject to the recall effort, said, “I don’t have anything constructive to add to the conversation. As a citizen, I hope she does a good job and I wish her well.”

But her history as a conservative activist raises questions about how effective she will be in the Legislature. Politically, she’s polls apart from moderate Senate leadership and influential members such as Sens. Dean Cameron of Rupert and Shawn Keough of Sandpoint. Can she work with them? At what point will she be painting moderate colleagues with the same broad brush as Bloem and Kennedy?

Souza says she’s going to the Legislature to listen, learn, do a lot of reading and represent her constituents from District 4.

“People will think what they want and I’m not going on a crusade to make them like me,” she said. “I didn’t run for this office to fill out my resume in life. I feel comfortable with what I’ve done and who I am. The reason I did this is because real, regular people need to be involved in government.” (more…)

Election alternatives

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

I love playing golf, but I hate hitting irons.
One day, I heard somebody talk about the key to better iron play. “Get rid of the darn things,” he said. I did, and my golf game improved dramatically with my odd assortment of fairway woods.

The same principal can apply to elections in Idaho. Get rid of the darn things – at least as they are now. General elections at the top of the ticket have all the suspense of old communist Russian ballots, where only one name counts – the one with the “R” label. Democrats have become irrelevant. But as bad as general elections are, primary elections are worse. The voting turnout in late May is disgustingly low – especially with the closed primaries. But the open primaries also were a disaster in terms of low turnout.

Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney has said he favors eliminating primary elections and letting the parties figure out how to nominate their candidates. Actually, he’s on the right track because it’s ridiculous for the state to be spending money on primary elections that draw less than 20 percent of eligible voters. Since some 80 percent of the people have made it clear they don’t want to exercise their right to vote, then maybe they should lose that right. If nothing else, the howls of protest would offer some entertainment value.

A better idea is to find something else that does work. Oregon voters rejected an interesting idea that is used in Washington and some other states: End closed primaries and open the elections to all comers. The top two vote-getters for a given office would square off in the general election.

That means, two Republicans could be running against one another in a general election – which often would be the case in Idaho. If the top-two format were used in Idaho in the governor’s race, Gov. Butch Otter might have been going against Republican State Sen. Russ Fulcher instead of Democrat A.J. Balukoff. Voters in rural Idaho – which holds all the power in elections – then would have a real choice.

Idaho is not a two-party system in a traditional sense, but there are two distinctly divided factions in the Republican Party. There is, in lack of a better name, the “Tea Party Crowd” (TPC), led by Congressman Raul Labrador and at least half of the state’s House leadership. That group has a name for the other side: RINO – “Republicans in Name Only,” with Otter and Congressman Mike Simpson being among the charter members. The TPC prides itself on being “traditional Republicans,” who oppose anything to do with President Obama, Medicaid expansion and government-sanctioned education standards. The RINO group doesn’t like Obama, but are friendlier to selective “moderate” causes. (more…)

The rural view

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Elections are over, but the groaning continues from the “enlightened” elite, which saw beloved Democrats get kicked in the teeth.

Conventional “enlightened” wisdom is that those ignorant hicks in rural Idaho didn’t know what they were doing. If unenlightened rural folk read the Idaho Statesman, the flagship paper of the Great State of Ada, they surely would have voted for Democrat A.J. Balukoff as governor. Better informed people also would have voted for Jana Jones as state superintendent of public instruction, Holli Woodings as secretary of state and Deborah Silver as state treasurer. I’ve also heard speculation that Democrats lost because they failed to field quality candidates in this cycle.

Hogwash. Rural Idahoans knew exactly what they were doing on Election Day and the Democratic ticket was plenty strong. The only problem with Democrats is they were from the wrong party; people in rural Idaho simply don’t trust Democrats. State Rep. Judy Boyle of Midvale, a former congressional staff member of Helen Chenoweth, says the “enlightened” few have it all wrong.

“People in rural Idaho are well educated and very independent, and that’s why we live here,” she said. “We like coming up with our own ideas, doing our own research and we don’t need to receive a daily paper with liberal tripe telling us how to think.”

With few exceptions, rural Idahoans think Democrats belong in California, or the East Coast – but not in any position of authority in Idaho. As Boyle explains, Democrats tend to be for gun control and more taxes, and liberal concepts such as Common Core and Obamacare.
Voters from Idaho’s heartland knew little about State Superintendent-elect Sherri Ybarra, who had the closest race of the night. “But they figured an ‘R’ was better than a ‘D,’” Boyle said. Rural Idahoans were not about to go against Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney of Midvale, who was about as rural as a candidate can get.

“He’s a farmer and he’s not afraid to say, ‘I believe in the Lord, believe in the family and believe in our country,’” Boyle said. “Those are basic Idaho principles.”

Abortion, gay marriage and gun control – staples of the Democratic platform – are not among the basic principles in rural Idaho.

Boyle celebrated the GOP’s victory in the mid-term elections, saying “the American people figured out what was going on.” But she is not pleased to see another four years of Gov. Butch Otter, which Boyle said has produced “backroom deals, the whole dang thing with the prisons, the (Idaho Education Network), the crony capitalism that is going on.”

Boyle’s friends and neighbors saw the “good-old-boy” side of Otter. “He goes around, slaps everybody on the back and has a drink with them,” Boyle said. “People don’t know how vindictive he is, how hateful he is and how he says one thing and does the totally opposite.”

But those factors didn’t come into play on Election Day, and it probably would not have made a difference if news about the IEN’s broadband contract came out before the election. All that mattered was that Otter had an “R” by his name.

To rural Idahoans, a flawed Republican governor is far better than the best candidate that Democrats can field.

Not in a single month

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Ten years ago this month, a cardiologist told me I was a prime candidate for dropping dead at any moment because my heart was clogging up, as if Elmer’s glue was flowing through my veins. I checked into the hospital the next day, and doctors were cracking open my chest for a five-way heart bypass that saved my life.

I’m telling this story because November happens to be American Diabetes Awareness Month – a time to focus attention on a growing disease that hits 30 million people in America and more than 80 million people who are diagnosed with a ticking time bomb called “pre-diabetes.” If we do nothing, it is projected that one in three people will have diabetes by 2050 and I can only imagine what that will do in terms of health care costs.

As I celebrate my 10-year anniversary of my new lease on life, this also is a good time to reflect on what I have been through, what could have happened and maybe offer some hope for those who are battling this disease. A clogged up heart was only one of the complications I have experienced since being diagnosed with diabetes 15 years ago. I lost a toe in 2001, essentially lost my vision two years later and left my job as an editorial writer with the Idaho Statesman.

Nobody dies directly from diabetes; it’s the complications from this silent killer that can make death a welcome relief in the later stages. Heart disease, kidney failure, stroke, amputations and nerve damage are among those complications. If I didn’t have the bypass surgery 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be around to tell this story. Instead … I’m 64 years old and feeling great. My heart is strong and healthy, my eyesight has fully recovered. I don’t know if my recovery was the result of the grace of God, or dumb luck, but I’ll take the result.

Diabetes is a horrible disease, but it is not a death sentence. It can be managed and some of the effects can be reversed (I’m living proof). There’s plenty of help for those with the disease, including the American Diabetes Association. The ADA also provides expertise in management and offers tips for a healthier lifestyle – such as more walking and smarter cooking. So, it’s isn’t all gloom and doom – although there’s enough information that can scare the daylights out of people. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure and two of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke. The rate for amputations for people with diabetes is 10 times higher than for people without diabetes. The national cost for treating the disease is estimated at $245 billion.

The National Institute of Health and the Centers for Disease Control are entities that are working to find a cure. Aside from that, there are no grand government solutions. Individuals have responsibility to help themselves. It starts with the home and parents promoting a healthier lifestyle for their kids, who will be part of this world in 2050.

November is a good time to talk about all of this. But healthier living cannot be confined to a single month.

The Otter message

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Judging by his margin of victory, Gov. Butch Otter sealed the deal on this election long before the Oct. 30 debate on Idaho Public Television. But if there were any doubts about Otter in rural Idaho, where Otter practically is a political folk hero, they were quickly dashed in the debate.

From a rural perspective, Otter, the rodeo cowboy, was going against all the forces of evil. There was a Democratic egghead, a smooth-talking lawyer and a liberal media panel that peppered him with questions about issues that didn’t amount to a jar of tobacco spit – mainly, the prison scandal and settlement amounts.
Otter, the smart politician he is, turned the situation in his favor. He fought back, putting the rich Democrat, the lawyer and the liberal press in their place. A few times, he stood toe to toe with John Bujak, looking him straight in the eye – which, given Bujak’s physical stature, was like staring down Mean Joe Greene.

Somewhere in rural Idaho, someone had to be saying, “You tell ‘em, Butch.” The rural folk couldn’t care less if the settlement amount with Corrections Corporation of America was $1 million, or $1.3 million, or whether he participated in negotiations that gave the CCA a golden parachute. One thing people in rural Idaho can understand is how to deal with tough times, and Otter played those cards just right. It’s easy for people in Boise to talk about spending more for education and raising taxes; it’s a lot tougher for people in rural Idaho to come up with the cash.

For almost an hour and a half, Otter showed a side of him that has been missing for so long. He’s the guy who, as a legislator, voted “not no, but HELL NO,” on a bill he didn’t like. As lieutenant governor, he vetoed a bill to raise the drinking age when the governor was out of town because he didn’t want to yield to the federal government’s blackmail. As a congressman, Otter stood up to a Republican president at the height of his popularity to oppose the Patriot Act, because he thought it trampled on people’s civil rights.

During the talk about the Patriot Act, calls of “You tell ‘em, Butch,” didn’t just come from rural Idaho. Otter was a champion of the people and even the editorial pages gave him credit. (more…)

Will the voters take him out?

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

This year’s governor’s race comes down to whether Idaho voters care about crony capitalism, where political cronies and campaign donors profit under the name of “serving the public’s interest.”

Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff is using the stretch run of this campaign to bring up two glaring examples – the Corrections Corporation of America’s failed private-prison management effort and the $60 million broadband contract, which has turned into a nearly $80 million tab for Idaho taxpayers. Both matters involve people, or entities, that have donated generously to Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign.

This isn’t exactly an “October surprise,” since the CCA fiasco, especially, has been in the news lately. And Balukoff isn’t the first gubernatorial candidate to raise issues regarding CCA and broadband contracts. State Sen. Russ Fulcher, who challenged Otter in May’s Republican primary, also touched on those issues. The difference is Fulcher didn’t have the money to make a stink last May; Balukoff does, and he’s flooding television screens with ads and newspapers with press releases.

Balukoff has struck a nerve. After Balukoff ran ads about the CCA, Otter responded with an ad of his own – basically calling Balukoff a liar.

Balukoff is taking a risk. If negative ads work – and history suggests that they do – then the final round of ads will be a big reason why he wins. Or, it can backfire on him if he’s bombarding voters with information that is far too complicated to digest. There is nothing simple about the issues he’s presenting, and Otter supporters couldn’t care less.

Otter’s campaign also has taken a negative turn, mostly using the traditional rhetoric that Republicans use against Democrats. He paints Balukoff as a spend-happy liberal who wants to bleed Idahoans with higher taxes and compromise our 2nd Amendment rights – which probably ruffles more feathers than higher taxes. The ads falsely assume that a Democratic governor has any influence over a Republican Legislature.

There’s not much Balukoff can do that the GOP hasn’t done to itself. Otter and Republican leaders in the Legislature already have established a statewide health exchange program, a centerpiece of Obamacare. They have given their backing to Common Core education standards, a favorite of the liberal social engineers. Balukoff probably will take the lead in promoting Medicaid expansion if he wins, but that’s no culture shock to Republicans. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry – the right arm of the Otter campaign – already is on the front row of support for that issue. (more…)

Reviewing candidates for style

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku, a native of Kenya and motivational speaker from Boise, follows Idaho politics closely, but his evaluation of candidates goes beyond their views on the issues.

Kituku wants to know how a person connects with an audience. Does the candidate stumble over words? Speak without a script? Use stories and humor in their presentations? Show passion? Inspire voters?

Kituku’s standards are high. His opening prayers are better than many keynote addresses. He has written books, made recordings and conducted seminars on public speaking. He’d be an outstanding speaking coach for any candidate wanting to sharpen his/her skills.

But he doesn’t get a lot of takers, because most candidates don’t give much thought to presentations – the part that often closes the deal with voters.
Intellectually, everyone wants to put substance ahead of style. But style is crucial, especially for newcomers challenging longtime incumbents. Steve Symms was loaded with style and flash when he ran against, and defeated, longtime Sen. Frank Church in 1980.

Cecil Andrus won two big races for governor, at least partly due to his ability to connect effectively with audiences. Four years ago, Keith Allred had substance in his run for governor against C.L. “Butch” Otter, but few style points and was no match for Otter in the general election.

This year’s Democratic candidate, A.J. Balukoff, a CPA by profession, speaks with Sabout corruption in the Otter administration and lack of focus on education, but without gusto. Balukoff’s bow tie, which was used in his early television ads, probably didn’t help him, according to Kituku. “I tell people they should stand out, but that does not mean looking silly.”

Kituku says Otter is no great speech-maker; the older he gets, the more he tends to ramble. But Otter has not lost a step as far as his ability to work a room. Strong handshakes, beaming smiles and friendly laughs make him as likeable as ever.

“That’s what I mean about connecting with people,” Kituku said. “Mitt Romney had some outstanding ideas and values, but he was not likeable.”

Recently, I was talking with Democratic Senatorial Candidate Nels Mitchell, and offered some first impressions of his speaking style. I hear words coming out of his mouth, but don’t feel anything coming from his heart. He may be a hit with Democrats and those who dislike Sen. Jim Risch, but in politics, lack of heart and soul equals lack of connection with undecided voters. Kituku has a similar view.

“Forget that one,” Kituku said flatly of Mitchell’s style.

He’s no kinder toward Risch, who Kituku says comes across as angry. “He does not connect well.”
Mitchell, a career lawyer, would do well learning from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, another career lawyer who turned to politics. As a candidate, and in his early days in office, Bieter was “horrible” as a speaker. Kituku saw a marked improvement in Bieter’s second state-of-the-city address – speaking without a script, telling stories and blending humor into his presentation.   (more…)

Being a politician

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Nels Mitchell says up front in his campaign against Sen. Jim Risch that he is not a career politician. “In fact, I’m not a politician at all.”

Breaking news: Mitchell is a politician. He’s a career lawyer and there’s no way he could survive in that field without being a politician. So there’s Exhibit A in building a case (beyond a reasonable doubt) that he is, indeed, a politician.

Exhibit B is his campaign manager, Betty Richardson. She has an outstanding reputation as a lawyer and she’s a pretty good politician as well. Richardson was unsuccessful in her run for 1st District Congress against Butch Otter in 2002. But in 36 years covering politics (not all in Idaho), I’m hard pressed to think of any candidate I’ve seen who was better prepared.

Exhibit C is in Mitchell’s actions. As he blasts networks such as FOX News for creating anger and outrage, Mitchell releases a video of MSNBC’s Rachael Maddow – the left wing’s answer to Rush Limbaugh – slamming Risch for suggesting that the national debt is the biggest problem in Idaho. Mitchell says he does not want to match Risch with snide comments. Yet, after a televised debate in Boise, Mitchell nailed Risch for “creating a sideshow,” using “theatrics” and spouting “half-truths” and “shrill insults.”

So, Mitchell is not a choir boy and don’t look for him to star in a remake of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” But he is an intelligent, thoughtful and articulate person and an intriguing candidate. Running against Risch, the ultimate “career politician” presents challenges. It also presents advantages, since there’s no shortage of people who dislike Risch, perhaps the most polarizing figure in Idaho politics. Mitchell says his internal polling shows that Risch has not closed the deal in this election.

So he’d better learn to be a politician quickly if he is to peel off undecided voters. Maybe he could watch a few clips of Huey Long to learn how to rile up a crowd. Mitchell, at 60, acknowledges that he has some rough edges as a politician. After all, he did not mold his life and career to run for the U.S. Senate, as Risch has. About a year and a half ago, Richardson, former Gov. Cecil Andrus and others encouraged him to run and initially he did not take the bait – that is, until Congress shut down the government. “That was the tipping point,” he said.

Another motivator was the feeling that Risch should have an opponent. No other Democrat was interested in challenging a well-funded incumbent. Last year, in an interview with the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board, Risch talked in glowing terms about how much he enjoyed life in Washington and social perks, such as attending events at Ford’s Theater and his wife attending a luncheon hosted by Michelle Obama. I was in the room when he said (as reported by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey), “You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job.” Being governor is hard work and can wear a person down. “You can’t do that job permanently. This, you can do ad infinitum.”
Mitchell says that Washington is broken with a system run by lobbyists and career politicians. He says he’d serve one term, which is understandable for a 60-year-old man. Six years in that rat race is enough even for those much younger.

Mitchell says, Democrats share part of the blame for the dysfunction. He’s not impressed with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, or House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He calls the implementation of President Obama’s health care plan as “an embarrassment,” and views the president’s foreign policy as short-sighted.

He disagrees with Risch about the national debt being the greatest problem facing Idaho. “The biggest problem facing Idaho is the lack of living-wage jobs and our weak economy,” says Mitchell, promoting raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

The big challenge is convincing Idaho businesses that raising the minimum wage is a good idea, then getting it passed through Congress. It will take some masterful political skills to make all that happen, so maybe Mitchell should not dwell so much about not being a politician.

He’d be better off talking about why he’s the right man for the job.

The certain superintendent change

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Two things are certain to come from this year’s race for superintendent of public instruction. One, a woman will occupy one of Idaho’s constitutional offices since Donna Jones was elected controller in 2006. Secondly, Tom Luna will ride out of office after eight years – which is good news to a lot of “professional” educators.

The bad news is that Idaho will be losing one of its most aggressive advocates for public schools since Jerry Evans held the office. Luna and Evans disagreed sharply on viewpoints and approaches, but both took strong stands on education issues without worrying much about political fallouts.

Luna came into office promising to shake things up in education and he delivered with a series of “Students Come First” proposals – commonly known as “Luna Laws.” Many of the criticisms were justified. He didn’t bring up these proposals until after he won re-election and the process wasn’t as inclusive as it could have been. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter gave his full backing to these proposals and the Legislature voted them into law, which speaks well for Luna’s ability to navigate the political system. Voters had different ideas, sending the Luna Laws to a resounding defeat in 2012.

One thing that was positive in my mind was, at least Luna was trying to do something about an education system that has not fundamentally changed in 50 years.
Luna, a former member of the Nampa School Board, was not a professional educator. But he had something that few candidates running for the position ever had – the ability to communicate and articulate his vision about where he wanted to go and how to get there. Regardless of the audience – and even with editorial boards -- he came across as confident, strong and under control.

I don’t see any of those communication qualities in the two candidates running, Democrat Jana Jones and Republican Sherri Ybarra, both of whom have a stronger education resume than Luna. Neither candidate talks about grand ideas beyond supporting the governor’s education task force and Common Core.

Jones has more experience with office, having working with three superintendents and as chief deputy under Marilyn Howard, who was a capable educator but a horrible communicator. Jones thinks a Democrat can be effective in the superintendent’s office.

“Students don’t come to school with Ds and Rs on their foreheads,” Jones said in a debate in Twin Falls, covered by Idaho Education News. “We use politics to be elected, but once there, you need to put politics aside.”

Unfortunately, legislators do care about Ds and Rs and the reality is Republicans don’t pay attention to Democrats on big-ticket issues. If Jones talks about promoting an Internet sales tax, it will give Republicans even more reason to shoot it down.

Ybarra has a better chance of working with Republican lawmakers. But she also has stated repeatedly that she is not a politician, which is a terrible quality for a state superintendent. It takes a lot of political moxie to present budget proposals to the governor’s office and make a convincing case to the Legislature. Part of the job means sitting on the State Board of Education is not for the faint of heart, or non-politicians. She’s also not much for media interviews, as Jennifer Swindell of Idaho Education News discovered early on in a profile of Ybarra in May. (more…)