Politics: Idaho Republicans split

by Judy Ferro

There’s an old saying among Democrats—and perhaps among Republicans also—that when the opposition shoots itself in the foot, it’s best to stay out of range.   So, generally, I’ve had little to say about Republican primary elections.

This presents a problem for a liberal columnist:  The Democratic primaries lack drama.   Sure, we have a contested seats–some guy from New York is again seeking nomination for an Idaho U.S. Senate seat—but most of the contests are between people who’ve been in public service and political activities for years and someone I’ve never heard of.  Only in the race for Boise’s District 16, seat A, do we have two hardworking Democrats with active supporters battling it out—John McCrostie, a leader of the battle against the Luna Laws, and Jimmy Farris, the impressive and capable former Congressional candidate—and I haven’t heard any disagreement on issues in that race.

On the other hand, Republican primaries throughout Canyon County offer sturm and drang.

The turmoil over the Republican nomination for House Seat 10B has been an interesting diversion, but now it’s clear that Republican primary voters may vote for Greg Chaney, who has stated his intent to withdraw, or the two write-in candidates, Brian Bishop and Kent Marmon, but their votes aren’t likely to decide the matter.  District 10 precinct captains will select a replacement for Chaney.

No, the real contests are between Conservative and uber-Conservative candidates.

As an outsider looking in, I see two issues identifying these opposing forces—the Idaho insurance exchange and public lands.

Uber-Conservative candidates regard Obamacare as contaminating anyone who came within an arms length of supporting an Idaho insurance exchange.  So what if, as Sen. John Rusche estimates, the nearly 50,000 Idahoans enrolled through the exchange are paying a total $2.4 million less than if we’d had only the Federal exchange?   Uber-conservatives would prefer that all 50,000 were left uninsured—along with those with pre-existing conditions and kids over 18 who are now included on their parents’ policies.  (Liberals like myself, who like to see people make use of preventive care, are unhappy with Conservative legislators for failing to help insure the 80,000 Idahoans who qualified for extended Medicaid.)

The differences on the public land issue are more subtle.  Uber-Conservatives believe that getting possession of lands now held by the Federal government is the panacea for all of Idaho’s economic woes.  It may cost the Federal government millions to fight fires in our forests, but Idaho won’t have all that expense once we get all those trees logged.  Conservatives, on the other hand, support the Republican platform plank stating that Idaho forests should be used for “livestock grazing, timber, wildlife, improved air quality, recreation, mining and all other beneficial forest uses.” Fracking on public lands seems okay with both.

Apparently, the difference is that uber-Conservatives believe Idaho can regain ownership of the land while mainstream Conservatives will settle for exploitation of the natural resources.

So registered Republicans will soon be allowed to decide between bad and badder managers of our health insurance and our public lands.

No, I’m happy not voting in the Republican primary.  Of course, those of us in Districts 10 and 12 have a full slate of Democratic legislative candidates to support.  (Heidi Knittel has filed as a Democratic write-in for District 12 Senate.)  Those in Districts 11 and 13, however, will see their representatives chosen in primaries that are closed to many.

Voters now registered as “unaffiliated” may change their party affiliation at the polls.  The deadline for those registered with the Democratic or Constitutional or Libertarian parties to change passed weeks ago.  We’ve got to make our voices count in November.

 

 

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