Friday, May 16, 2014

Fulcher: Gubernatorial Debate a 'Mockery of the Republican Party and of Idaho'

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 1:44 PM

click to enlarge The Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate, aired less than a week before the Tuesday, May 20, primary election, has become a viral hit with the off-kilter personalities of two of the candidates. - IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION
  • Idaho Public Television
  • The Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate, aired less than a week before the Tuesday, May 20, primary election, has become a viral hit with the off-kilter personalities of two of the candidates.

It was must-see TV.

Idaho's May 14 GOP gubernatorial debate, aired on Idaho Public Television and bringing together incumbent Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and challengers Sen. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian), Harley Brown and Walt Bayes, became a viral sensation on May 15, ultimately landing on more than a few talk shows—even through the morning of May 16.

The undisputed stars: Brown and Bayes, both perennial candidates for a range of state offices.
click to enlarge Candidate Harley Brown's bizarre performance at the Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate has been a viral hit online. - IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION
  • Idaho Public Television
  • Candidate Harley Brown's bizarre performance at the Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate has been a viral hit online.

Leather-clad and sporting fingerless gloves, Brown's remarks have already become meme-worthy: "I've got a Master's degree in raisin' hell," "I'm about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punch bowl," and his summation of the field of candidates, "A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy."

Bayes, meanwhile, hewed to his oft repeated, Biblically studded campaign stance of making abortion illegal, thundered against "Eastern idiots" making lands policy, and bragged that he'd shot and killed a wolf while the species was still on the endangered species list. Beyond statements about his time in jail for home-schooling his 16 children and a closing statement about the risks of nuclear contamination, his most quotable quote: "Half the Republican Party is Democrats, and half the Democrats are communists."

The 57-minute-long debate was instant fodder for mockery, with mashups appearing on YouTube and news sources from Gawker to the Washington Post picking up on the story.

Not everyone is laughing, though—especially Fulcher, who took to his campaign site to decry Otter's insistence that Brown and Bayes be included in the event as a thinly veiled attempt to drown him out.
click to enlarge Walt Bayes, a father of 16, quoted from the Bible to support his opposition to same-sex marriage. - IDAHO PUBLIC TELEVISION
  • Idaho Public Television
  • Walt Bayes, a father of 16, quoted from the Bible to support his opposition to same-sex marriage.

According to Fulcher's statement:

“Although they did not meet the debate’s qualifying criteria, governor Otter demanded inclusion of two perennial candidates, Walt Bayes and Harley Brown, as a contingency of his participation in the only debate he would agree to. As a result, the ‘debate’ turned from a serious discussion regarding the position for Idaho’s Chief Executive, to a mockery of the republican party and of Idaho. Clearly, the governor wanted to take time away from me and minimize exposure to his failed record as governor. Apparently, governor Otter is content to have Idaho be a laughing stock so long as it improves his chance of winning an election [sic].”

Fulcher added:

“Idahoans deserve better. A governor should be willing to hold himself accountable and face a legitimate challenger in a public forum. I have nothing against Mr. Brown or Mr. Bayes, but Governor Otter was well aware of the environment he would create when he demanded their inclusion as a contingency of his participation. When I am governor, I will not subject my party or my state to this type of public humiliation.”

For his part, Otter has claimed that Brown and Bayes were included in a spirit of participatory democracy.

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