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Posts published in “Malloy”

More about Fulcher

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Opposition to Obamacare and Common Core are two of the hooks Sen. Russ Fulcher has used to attract conservative voters in May’s gubernatorial primary race. But he says the “fun part” of his challenge to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is discussing his vision for the state, which goes beyond ideology.

He’s thinking big and dreaming even bigger. As he sees it, Idaho is sitting on a gold mine of untapped wealth and prosperity – the kind that could put Idaho on the same economic path as North Dakota, Wyoming and other energy exporters that have bulging state revenues.

“It’s a game changer,” he said. “Washington and Payette counties have natural gas that is pure and plentiful, and a lot of it is on private land. We haven’t done anything with the resources we have, but we know they are there. There’s no reason why Idaho can’t be powered with Idaho’s natural gas and generate all of the benefits that come with it.”

He says that the natural gas could be harvested with little, if any, environmental impact and no fracking.
The holdup, he said, is with the state – not the federal government. “It’s the state that’s putting up hurdles in front of private individuals who want to develop this resource.”

Fulcher says that, as governor, he would provide the leadership to open the doors to a new industry and a new era of prosperity. “It’s a matter of getting with the Department of lands and saying, ‘here’s your charter: Knock down those hurdles and let’s get this thing cranking.’”

North Dakota, with its explosive growth, might not be such an attractive role model. But at least, Fulcher is talking and thinking beyond business as usual. It’s far more interesting than Otter’s bit part in a low-budget movie more than 20 years ago.

Fulcher has plenty to say about Otter – and not about movies. (more…)

An upset alert

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Governor Butch Otter, as the leader of Idaho’s Republican Party, should have clout when it comes to issues such as closed primaries. But on this issue, party loyalists are more likely to listen to former Sen. Rod Beck than Otter. Now, the governor is stuck with a voting system that could bite him on the backside as he seeks his third term in office.

Conventional wisdom suggests that Otter should have no trouble sailing through the primary and winning re-election. I’m not buying it.

With a closed primary and a probable low voter turnout, Senator Russ Fulcher has a legitimate shot at pulling off the upset. Fulcher doesn’t have Otter’s bankroll, and the media is largely ignoring his campaign. But Fulcher has one big thing on his side: People who vote in primary elections and have no hesitation about registering as Republicans. Tea party supporters and social conservatives aren’t bothered by the lack of press coverage; they don’t care much for Idaho newspapers anyway.

So Fulcher has a clear path to victory. The first step is rounding up those who supported Congressman Raul Labrador and former Bill Sali. Fulcher has served plenty of red meat to that crowd, voicing his displeasure with Obamacare and Common Core. The senator can count on help from social conservatives, who learned a long time ago that political power comes from voting in primary elections. Otter is many years removed from a DUI arrest and participating in tight-jeans contests, but religious conservatives have long memories and Fulcher is about as squeaky clean as a politician can get. Fulcher also could look to support from those advocating for term limits. All they need to know is that Otter is a 71-year-old career politician who is seeking a third term in office. And there’s nothing stopping him from going for a fourth, fifth and sixth term – unless he dies, or voters boot him out.

So don’t be too quick to write off Fulcher in this election. Otter supporters may like the numbers they see. But will their voters come out on May 20? I worked with former state Senator Sheila Sorensen’s congressional campaign in 2006 and we were pretty optimistic about the numbers we saw two months before the election. Bill Sali, the most conservative candidate in the field, was the clear winner. Vaughn Ward probably felt good about his numbers two months before the 2010 primary, but his campaign imploded and Raul Labrador – the more conservative candidate -- was the easy winner.

Those things happened when Republican primaries were “open” to Democrats, independents and anyone else who wanted to vote. Today’s closed-primary format sets up perfectly for Fulcher.

Otter’s concerns about closed primaries are legitimate. In a speech to Farmer’s Insurance agents, as reported by the Statesman’s Dan Popkey, the governor talked about voters’ reluctance to sign a paper declaring themselves as Republicans. As Otter accurately states, many people are disenfranchised with closed primaries, including state employees who are supposed to be non-partisan.

“Now when you sign this piece of paper, it says that ‘I am a Republican,’ and it’s the only way you can get on the Republican ballot,” he said.

In my view, it’s Otter’s own fault for allowing himself to be steamrolled on this issue. Sure, he made a few token statements in opposition to closed primaries, but he wasn’t putting himself on the line. After two embarrassing political defeats – the dismissal of Kirk Sullivan as the GOP chairman the killing of his gas-tax proposal to improve Idaho roads – Otter wasn’t about to take a third whipping.

“I didn’t think it was a good idea to do that,” Otter told the insurance agents. “But that’s what the party wanted to do and that’s what the Central Committee voted for, so that’s what we do.”

Now that’s what I call leadership … for a church mouse. Otter was merely employing the kind of political survival skills that have allowed him to hold high office for parts of four decades.

If he had stood up to the Rod Becks of this world and put up a real fight against close primaries – as one might expect from the party’s leader -- he would have lost big. And he knows it.

Listening to Batt

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Leave it to former Gov. Phil Batt to provide a sane voice of reason to a controversial social issue. He played the role of a statesman marvelously during his years in political office and he is just as relevant today as he encourages his fellow Republicans to “add the words” in the battle to end discrimination against gays.

Batt made a compelling argument in a recent op-ed that appeared in the Idaho Statesman. As Batt accurately points out, Idaho continues to feel the sting of the practicing Nazis in North Idaho. Large corporations, such as Hewlett-Packard and Boise Cascade, are rightfully concerned about Idaho’s negative reputation in regard to human rights.

But Batt’s reasons go beyond economics and politics. In his op-ed, he wrote about two of his grandchildren who were gay, or sympathetic to gay causes, and found success – in another state.

“These young folks love Idaho and I wish they lived here so that I could see them more,” Batt said. “However, they will never make this their home again as long as we maintain our distain for people who are ‘different.’”

The biggest battle that Batt and other proponents face is the mentality of his fellow Republicans in the Idaho Legislature. Batt’s thinking in more in line with Idahoans in North Idaho who successfully fought against the Aryan Nations, the Nazi group that settled in the area, and worked hard to restore that area’s proud image. Unfortunately, it’s people such as Rep. Lynn Luker, who seem to take their lead from the likes of the late George Wallace – the old George Wallace of the segregation era. Luker might as well be saying, “Discrimination now, discrimination tomorrow and discrimination forever … in the name of religious freedom.” All that’s missing from Luker’s rhetoric is a southern drawl.

Legislators should realize two fundamental concepts as they ponder this issue.

Discrimination in any form is wrong – whether it’s on the basis of age, race, gender or sexual orientation.

Idaho looks pretty stupid in continuing to tolerate discrimination against gays. Attitudes are changing even in Arizona and that takes some doing.

If Arizona can change, then so can Idaho. Years ago, Idaho was a white-knuckles holdout in acknowledging Martin Luther King Day as a holiday – which turned Idaho into a national laughing stock. The embarrassment ended in 1990, with the courage of Sen. Lee Staker of Idaho Falls and leadership of Senate President Pro Tem Mike Crapo.

The same kind of courage and determination can turn the tide on the “add the words” debate. Republicans may not listen to former Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour, who seems to widen the partisan divide every time she opens her mouth. But they can, and should pay attention to the words of Phil Batt, one of the great Idaho statesmen of our times.

Returning

malloy CHUCK
MALLOY

 
In Idaho

Retirement sucks.

I have tried retirement on for size since leaving the Idaho Statesman two months ago and it truly sucks. I’ve tried saying, “I’m retired,” for the last couple of weeks, but I cringe at the thought. So I’m not going to do it. I’m 63 years old, which may be too old to hold a job or be hired anywhere. But I don’t look or feel old, and I’m not going to act old.

Every now and then, I see stories about people who retire and end up dead within a short time. When my older brother was in his late 50s, he talked glowingly about retirement and some of the things he wanted to do. When he turned 62, he could hardly wait to begin his new chapter of life; he was planning to spend his golden years in New Mexico. Just before moving there, he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and died just after his 64th birthday. I’m not suggesting that retirement killed him. But he spent so much time looking forward to it and he had so little time to enjoy it. I’m as healthy as a horse and could enjoy retirement if I wanted; I just don’t want it.

For me, I want to explore some new challenges while tackling some old ones. I do volunteer work with the American Diabetes Association, which has the most honorable of missions – to find a cure for this deadly disease. I’d also like to dabble in an area in which I am familiar, which is Idaho politics. I still have opinions on what I see and read in the news and I’d like to use this forum for expressing my thoughts.

The difference between what I’m doing with Ridenbaugh Press and working for a newspaper is I will not be tied to deadlines and will not have to worry about satisfying the whims of cranky desk editors. I can do what I want, when I want and write pretty much how I want.

You know, retirement doesn’t suck so much after all.