"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)
mansfield DENNIS

Many states are preparing to soon hold their Primary elections. Throughout the western states, the primaries are often held in the spring. For some states, like Arizona, their races for party nominations are held at the end of summer.

In Idaho, this party-centric nominating election is held in late May.

The two races that seem to capture the lion’s share of attention and news in Idaho are the GOP Primary races for Attorney General and Governor.

I’ve already covered the Attorney General race – stating that Christ (pronounced Chris) Troupis would make fine NEW attorney general. The incumbent’s tenure has simply been too long. (Having advocated term limits and fought a dying battle on behalf of them in Idaho, I STILL believe that elected officials MUST return home – either by force of law or force of vote.)

Regarding Governor, the case is the same.

Idaho’s sitting Governor, Butch Otter, and I have known each other for 23, almost 24 years. Many of those years have been friendly years – only distancing ourselves for a brief period of time when one another got in the way of the other’s mutually-desired GOP nomination to US Congress – a dozen-plus years ago. He won. I endorsed him the very next day and worked to see him get elected three times as Congressman and then twice as Governor. I have a deep affection and fondness for Butch and Lori Otter.

I also have a deep, decades-long friendship with Russ Fulcher and his family. I write about Russ in my book Beautiful Nate.

Originally, since neither candidate had asked for my endorsement, I withheld it. I just sat and watched – until this week.

Maybe it was today being Tax Day, maybe it was just my nature to think long and then act …

Today I decided to act and endorse State Senator Russ Fulcher for the GOP nomination for Governor of Idaho.

Here’s why:

Governor Butch Otter made two large blunders.

First, he embraced (and then led on) the state healthcare insurance exchange plan. He had a chance to be the Butch Otter many Idahoans have come to know and appreciate. Oddly, Butch Otter failed to BE Butch Otter on this major issue, failing to join many of his fellow GOP governors as they stood against it.

Second, he decided to run a third time as governor.

The first blunder has affected all Idahoans – the healthcare insurance exchange. The debate on that issue was well stated during the legislative session. Butch’s forces won. Idahoans lost.

Their insurance premiums, now due, reflect that loss – for many, but not all Idahoans.

My guess is that the number of affected conservative Republican individuals will be represented closely by the turn-out of primary voters who vote in favor of Senator Russ Fulcher.

Russ Fulcher has anchored his campaign to letting Idahoans know about this blunder. He’s been unrelenting. His campaign has been hard charging. In essence, Russ Fulcher is saying on the campaign trail what he said in the State Senate as he repeatedly stood and debated – there’s a better path than what Governor Otter decided to take.

Russ’ message is resonating with the needed amount of Idahoans.

It’s a relatively small pool of voters that will vote to determine if Butch Otter receives a third term. And many if those folks are clearly upset – Sen. Fulcher will receive their vote.

The other blunder was in deciding to run a third time. American politics is rooted in change. Elected officials need to run, win, serve and then leave. Butch has done all but one of those things on the voters’ bucket list.

Powerful interests are in a comfort zone with the possibility of his third term.

And have you noticed, there’s a sense of deja vu to their race?

The race between Mr. Otter and Mr. Fulcher has some interesting parallels to the 1st District U.S. Congressional race in 2010 which swept a relatively little-known local legislator into office and then into the national spotlight… now-Congressman Raul Labrador. I had an unusual perch from which to participate in that primary race, as the primary campaign spokesman for Labrador for Congress.

Let’s see how they rank together.

The GOP establishment weighed in heavily on the favorite and distanced itself from the challenger. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger’s endorsement by the Tea Party was key to voter turnout. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger, though unknown to many, seemed a likely next-best choice to the candidate they KNEW they didn’t want. 2010: check. 2014: check.

Social media’s role in an under-dog race avoids traditionally expensive primary campaign costs. 2010: check. 2014: check.

The challenger has an army of local moms and dads who have enlisted for short-term service. The incumbent has a paid staff. Big difference. 2010: check. 2014: check.

Identical situation? No. Close? Well, yes.

Butch Otter has been friendly and kind to many people, including my family and me – it’s his nature. Butch is no stranger to anyone.

But people aren’t voting for a friend. They’re voting for a governor. Voters want their leaders to stand tall against special interests and in favor of their pocket books and then get off the stage for the next act to take over.

Russ Fulcher is that next act and he will do that. It’s why I am endorsing him for Governor of Idaho.

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Idaho Mansfield

mansfield DENNIS

In the many years that I’ve worked in politics, I’ve never quite seen a more curious start to a race for Governor than this year – in Idaho.

Both candidates appear to be running against Barrack Obama – from two different sides. Both want to be more pro-life than the other, as well.

One candidate is an incumbent who joined a small group of three Republican governors embracing Obamacare by developing/supporting a state run health exchange.

All other GOP governors in the US refused to do this.

Another candidate is wrapping his opponent in Obamacare, preparing – as it were – for a political burial at sea.

The sea is an apt description – for we may be about to observe a major sea-change regarding the incumbent’s tenure.

Yesterday’s exchange on abortion between Butch Otter and Russ Fulcher is a telling case in point. With Obama’s partial-birth aborting of his own political “signature-law offspring”, Butch Otter unwanted-ly could become an accessory to his own politi-cide – and Russ Fulcher knows it.

Senator Fulcher has regularly attacked Governor Otter, over these past few months, for the incumbent’s role in failing to stand with the other Republican Governors in direct opposition top Obamacare. Governor Otter sided with the insurance industry lobbyists in developing the state health exchange. The pro-life community asked him not to do it. He chose a different course.

Yesterday, the Governor attacked Senator Fulcher, attempting to wrap the most pro-life senator in the state Capitol as someone who would be inviting Planned Parenthood into the state to determine policy within a federal health exchange.

Hmmm, what?

Something is happening within the Otter camp – something is unnerving its handlers.

Otter doesn’t bother with political slap-fests. In many ways he’s always been above it. So this response by his camp is somewhat awkward to watch.

Having run against him, myself, for US Congress, I can tell you that he’s cool, calm and collected – always in control of events, causing things to happen without himself appearing to be struggling. He also makes things happen without it looking like he did anything to his opponents – in a sense, above the fray.

But Idaho’s demographics are changing – younger people who don’t think of Governor Otter as their friend are shying away from elected officials who were against Obamacare before they were for it – and they may see their new premiums as too huge to pay. My guess is they just may vote with their past-due premium notices, tucked inside their depleted checkbooks.

And it won’t be for Obamacare’s state exchange champion in Idaho.

The question is whether that total of discontented individuals will number 50%+1 in the GOP Primary….

It’s a strange thing to think that one of the winning-est politicians in Idaho history may have stayed on stage once too long – even for people who like him. Over the years people have come to think of Butch as their friend – due to his gregarious nature. Lori Otter is one of the nicest people in politics – a teacher with a heart of gold. Butch and Lori have been kind to my family. Even after he deeply wounded my own political career, I like the man.

But every product has a shelf life.

Fulcher, on the other hand, is a nice enough guy – but make no mistake, he’s not a back slapper. He won’t pull up a bar-stool to get a vote. He’s all business and works accordingly. I’ve known Russ Fulcher for 23 years, mentored him for a while, travelled to Israel the first time because of him, prayed with him during the difficult birth of his daughter and loved his family. I mention in my family memoir how he was a major part of my oldest son’s life.

As a pro-life leader in Idaho during the 90’s and as a founding board member of Idaho’s premier and most-respected pro-life advocacy group, I see this attempt by Butch Otter’s handlers against Russ Fulcher as reactionary. Though I do not speak for the group, my personal comment is simple: this won’t wash. And it’s beneath the Governor to do so. It ranks as politically goofy as my own attack in 2000 against Butch for his stand against the EPA. I was dead wrong then, Butch is dead wrong here.

I’m not sure who the political consultants are in either camp, but the Otter Campaign stepped on a land mine with Obamacare – with the help of insurance lobbyists – and the ongoing effects of that injury are severe. That political leg is now missing. The question is whether he’s slowly politically bleeding to death or not.

The specter of Butch Otter being defeated in the May 2014 GOP Primary is real. Russ Fulcher may not be who voters vote FOR, but Butch Otter will be the candidate they vote AGAINST.

The closed GOP primary, the Tea Party, the cancelled health polices, the stench of lobbyists – may all combine to prove that President Obama was Butch Otter’s worst-ever running mate.

My guess is that Otter’s pollsters see it already and have reacted via this initial forceful attack.

Otherwise they’d ignore Russ Fulcher.

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mansfield DENNIS

I haven’t blogged yet on the political weakness of the entire GOP, observed recently by all.

Today I decided to do so.

A little needed background before I make my point:

For years I’ve been both a businessman and a political consultant.

In business I’ve owned a small mortgage company, a mid-sized soil erosion control company & a local city-wide firm that helped house ex-addicts. I’ve been a business coach for almost a decade and I recently became an author, published by Simon and Schuster and Endurance Press.

As a political consultant I lobbied for the Realtors, was the founding executive director of the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Palm Springs, CA and for a decade I founded and ran the Idaho Family forum – a pro-family public policy think-tank that educated and lobbied under IRS code 501 (c) 3 sub chapter (h), working in association with Focus on the Family and the Family Research council.

My experience also involved helping men and women run for office in the California’s Assembly, US Congress and US Senate along with Idaho’s House and Senate. A partial list of the GOP campaigns I’ve served/supported includes:

Howard Jarvis/Paul Gann/Proposition 13 (’78 cycle)
Ronald Reagan’s PAC, Citizens for the Republic – (’78 cycle)
David Dreier for US Congress (’78 cycle)
Reagan/Bush (’80 cycle in CA)
John Paul Stark for US Congress (’80, ’82 and ’84 cycles)
Fund-raising for Steve Symms for US Senate, Idaho (’84 cycle)
Robert Henley for CA Assembly (’84 cycle) & US Congress (’86 cycle)
Reagan/Bush(’84 cycle in CA)
Roger Madsen for ID State Senate (’92 cycle)
Dave Baumann for ID House (’92 cycle)
Bill Sali for ID House (’92, ’94 cycle)
Helen Chenoweth for US Congress (’94 Primary cycle)
Dole/Kemp (’96 cycle)
Gary Bauer for President (2000 Primary cycle)
Bill Sali for US Congress (’06 Cycle)
Raul Labrador for US Congress (’10 Primary cycle)

I hope my credentials speak for themselves.

Not a person among this list would be considered moderate or liberal.

I’m proud of those past credentials – of my business background and my political involvement – and yet I’m cautious of what I’m now seeing in the philosophical break-down within the GOP over this recent budget stalemate. Something deep down is wrong…

I think the Republican Party is lost in the woods – state by state and nationally.

The compass that directed them in the past has lost its true north: the founding document of our Republic, the US Constitution.

In 1980 the GOP used that compass and crafted its national party platform as a reflection of that truth.

Americans came forward because they longed to be involved. Citizens within the republic who had never been involved, became involved. Conservative evangelical christians, economic conservatives, constitutionalists, moms and dads…and then, in recent years, Tea Party members.

The tent was big, the issues were focused.

Not now. The compass still works, it’s just been set aside, it seems…

Citizens for the Republic recently put it this way in their mission:

“Some thirty years later, the GOP finds itself in much the same condition; worn down incapable of articulating a competing message and compelling vision to stand up against the liberal onslaught likely to come under President Barack Obama and the liberal elite that now dominates nearly every facet of American government and culture, from the White House and Capitol Hill, to colleges and Hollywood.

The belief that man’s freedom comes from God and not the State is once again in danger of being extinguished in America. Once again, the Republican Party is in danger of extinction.

As Ronald Reagan said, “the role of government is not to protect us from ourselves, it is to protect us from each other. Reagan understood that America was a rugged, do it yourself enterprise and that any government big enough to do everything for you is also big enough to take everything away from you.”

I agree with CFTR. “Once again, the Republican Party is in danger of extinction.”

The life of the Republican Party is ebbing; the Grand Old Party is not so grand at this moment, while looking every bit its old age.

It’s become a bifurcated hodge-podge of people, many of whom seem to have developed a cult of personality & allegiance to Ronald Reagan, the man, as an effective leader – while totally walking away from the deep-rooted political beliefs that President Reagan supported and implemented.

Many in the GOP harken back to the “good old days”, seeming to love Reagan while philosophically AND politically dismissing Reaganomics; they’re attracted to the strong Commander-in-Chief example of him in the past, while failing to understand the truth of “peace through strength” in the future.

They want to look like they’re negotiating, when in reality they’re folding.

It seems they want Ronald Reagan without needing President Reagan.

How angry he would be at such foolishness, were he alive today.

In reality, they’re more like the ultimate insider, President Gerald Ford, than they are President Reagan.

Today it’s Boehner as Ford. Today it’s Marco Rubio and Raul Labrador and a handful of men and women who GET the philosophy of Ronald Reagan, rather than the personality.

We need to look toward the future, for the rendezvous with detiny that still awaits us.

The constitution is our compass. It was for President Reagan.

It MUST be for today’s Republican Party – and for the nation.

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mansfield DENNIS

Welcoming the first of occasional columns by Dennis Mansfield, a veteran of Idaho Republican politics. His book “Beautiful Nate” will be published next month.

America’s future is found in its children, the saying goes. We must center our lives on them. All children must be allowed to succeed. And if we truly love our children, such individualized formula will work, the saying continues. Each of us feels this to one degree or another. As parents, Americans have ensured the success of their progeny via a highly controlled environment and well executed plans.

What if we’re all wrong?

In my own case, as evangelicals my wife and I raised our oldest son, Nate, in an atmosphere of faith-based formulae. Cocooning is too strong a phrase, but not by much. And it didn’t work. In time, he became a drug addict; arrested several times, placed in jail and ultimately he went to prison. His drug of choice was oxycodone and other prescription opiates, until they ran out and then heroin became the suitable substitute.

The result for a family, steeped in formulaic fear-based living, is often that we’re surprised and shocked by the teen that emerges.

It should all work, right?

But again, what if we’re wrong? Apollo 13’s famed comment that “failure is not an option” may in fact be incorrect. Learning from failure changes all of our lives. Why would we exclude our own children from that truth?

When something jars us from our formula and the unthinkable happens – our child gets high, she crashes a car, he physically hurts people, they rob a store, he escalates his drug of choice, becoming an addict.

Or as in the case of my son Nate, he dies from his involvement in drugs.

The child-centeredness of a fear-based parenting model can create the exact opposite of what we wanted, of what we planned for. My reliance on formulae was convenient, but invalid. Rather than the joyful smile of our little 4th grader at the table we began to stare into the surly, self-focused, uncaring and arrogant face of our young adult.

You too? And at twenty, or thirty-something, many adult-sized children still demanding the keys to the family’s car.

What in the world happened?

Somewhere in the mix we overlooked the keys to our child’s heart – by attempting to apply all the right and proper positioning for our son to succeed, we never gave room for the opportunity to fail.

It seems on a larger scale, as a nation we’ve embraced this premise as public policy. So much so that during each election cycle we’ve been forced to listen to a hackneyed series of thread-bare expressions used by politicians from both parties. Yet something in the expression DOES resonate long after voter tallies are put away. It appears to be a self-evident fact: our kids are precious and need to be protected now so that they can live productive lives and be model citizens in the future.

Kids need to be loved unconditionally, to be loved as their own person, to be loved so they too could love others. And they need to be told that the world does not revolve around them. They need to be allowed to fail and start over – repeatedly, if need be. No helicopter parents, no training-wheels of life. Hard times and no fear of failure-to-launch. By allowing them to fail, we teach our children the beautiful reality of failure – and how we can successfully help others through our own experiences of overcoming bad times.

John Lennon wrote in his haunting sonnet to his son, Beautiful Boy, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Today’s the best day to let life happen to your young children, your teens or to your adult children.

Allow them to fail.

You may not have tomorrow to do so.

I learned to no longer be busy making other plans.

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