Thursday, December 19, 2013

Frasure Struggles With Spelling In Idaho SOS Campaign Launch

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM

The list of Idaho Republicans who want to take over Secretary of State Ben Ysursa's job is growing ... but one of them doesn't even know how to spell the name of the man who will have held the office for 12 years.

In his official announcement to launch his candidacy, former Pocatello Rep. and Sen. Evan Frasure wrote, "Idaho's current Secretary of State, Ben Ysurza (sic), recently announced that he will not be seeking re-election after holding the office for 12 years."

Frasure has since corrected the spelling on his website.

Frasure already boasts support for his candidacy from Idaho Falls Sen. Bart Davis, Boise Sen. Fred Martin, Montpelier Sen. John Tippets, and McCammon Rep. Kelley Packer, all Republicans.

Meanwhile, former Boise GOP Sen. Mitch Toryanski is also making it official that he's interested in Ysursa's job.

Toryanksi is currently a military trainer for the Northrop Grumman Corporation and served in the Idaho Senate, representing Boise District 18 before being unseated in 2012 by Democrat Branden Durst, who resigned his seat Dec. 1. Toryanski is a West Point grad with degrees from American University and the Army War College. He was a small business manager, worked in the Ada County Prosecutor's Office and in the Idaho Attorney General's Office, where he wrote an average of 800 briefs each legislative session.

Midvale GOP Rep. Lawerence Denney and Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane have already announced that they'll be running for the same office in the May GOP primary.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why 'Watching The Watchers' Became 'Building Progressivism in Idaho' in The Mind of Jonathan Alter

Posted By on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 4:17 PM

The Jordan Ballroom in the Boise State University Student Union Building had already begun to fill by the time the patrons and board members of the Frank Church Institute joined them after their $60-a-plate meals. A grove of television cameras had established itself in the back of the ballroom on a platform.

Everyone had gathered to hear Frank Church Conference keynote speaker Jonathan Alter deliver a speech, titled "Watching the Watchers: Security vs. Liberty." He eventually spoke to his advertised topic, but first, he gave Boise a pat on the back.

"Idaho is really doing its part [with regards to progressive policies]. Or, I should say, Boise is doing its part," he said.

Up in the front row near the center aisle, Mayor Dave Bieter chuckled. 

Alter is an author, columnist for Newsweek and television analyst on MSNBC and NBC News. Lately he has served as executive producer of Alpha House, Amazon.com's foray into originally produced television.

The center of Alter's speech was progressivism, but he was able to weave the security/liberty dichotomy into his remarks by framing it in terms of what progressive politics add to the discussion. His four-point definition of his political philosophy included governmental transparency, market regulation, a sense of compassion and reverence for human rights.

As though pointing a finger at the cause of the safety/freedom divide, in his remarks about human rights, he threw a jab at the Bush administration to the delight of those in attendance.

"The war on terror ... is a war without end," he said. 

Progressivism, according to Alter, is ideally suited to mitigating the relationship between our concerns for our wellbeing and individual liberties. Its demands for transparency and accountability, in the realm of national security, translate to a more open process for obtaining wire taps and surveillance warrants. Alter lamented that only in the last year have Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) judges been identified by the press—a fact he said Idaho Democratic Sen. Frank Church, who served on a senate committee designed to increase the accountability of U.S. agencies, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

"The answer is democratic accountability," he said. "In an era where the government knows a lot more about us, we need to know the government a lot more."

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fulcher on Otter's Joke About 'Gettin' Elected': 'I Would Be Anxious Too'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:43 AM

The gloves are definitely off. Meridian Republican Sen. Russ Fulcher, who wants to unseat Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2014 GOP Primary, sent out a press release just hours after it was reported that Otter joked that Idaho's greatest challenge in 2014 was "Gettin' me elected."

The Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey reported Dec. 9 that Otter made the remarks at the Dec. 6 winter meeting of the Associated General Contractors:

"The 71-year-old governor joined his sympathetic audience with a full belly laugh. He then added that re-electing a Legislature with a GOP supermajority and 'stayin' the course' is a corollary to extending his continuous run in high office to 32 years."

Just a few hours later, Fucler said that Otter's joke "exemplifies his out-of-touch attitude."

"That said, I do understand his anxiety," said Fulcher.  "If my legacy was characterized by fighting to raise gas taxes and voluntarily implementing Obamacare state exchanges, I would be anxious, too."

Popkey also reports that Otter told the contractors that he expected a short 2014 session of the Idaho Legislature. That said, the 2014 elections season already seems long.

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chris Christie at Idaho Rally: 'Butch Otter and I Became Best Friends'

Posted By on Sat, Dec 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, both presumably seeking to increase their political fortunes, teamed up Friday night in a North Idaho rally.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Christie told the Coeur d'Alene Resort gathering that his family had vacationed in Idaho for "the past three summers" and had become "good friends" with Otter.

"I came out here to Idaho because I don't want any doubt in anyone's mind, if there was, that I am for Butch Otter," said Christie. "And if you like the way I do business, you must love the way he does business in Idaho. He does an amazing job."

Otter has announced that he'll be running for another term as the Gem State's governor in 2014, and Christie, fresh off of a landslide November re-election as the Garden State's governor, is a presumptive GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

"See, Butch and I became best friends because we are the same kind of folks," said Christie. "I am sure you never have to wonder what is on Butch Otter's mind."

Supporters paid $50 to get into the rally at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, while $1,000 secured entry to a VIP reception with Christie and Otter.

Otter played to the rally's anti-Washington, D.C., fervor.

"I think the only way we can save this great republic of ours is the same way it was created," said Otter. "It was the states that created this republic, and so I think it's up to the states to save it."

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A.J. Balukoff Launches Gubernatorial Campaign: 'We Can Do Better'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2013 at 1:00 PM

A.J. Balukoff launched his campaign to become Idahos next governor December 3.
  • George Prentice
  • A.J. Balukoff launched his campaign to become Idaho's next governor Dec. 3.

Flanked by a legion of children, urging Idahoans to vote "Grandpa for Governor," A.J. Balukoff, current school board member for the Boise Independent School District, part-owner of Boise's Grove Hotel, former CPA and board member to more than a dozen Idaho nonprofit organizations, announced his campaign to become Idaho's next governor.

"We can do better," Balukoff repeated throughout his first stump speech. "My brother, sister and I are the first of our grandfather's descendants to earn a college degree. I want those opportunities available to every Idaho child."

A number of Balukoff's children and grandchildren have attended, or are currently attending, Boise's Hillcrest Elementary School, where the candidate chose to launch his campaign in the brisk December air.

"I can't tell you how excited I was to learn of A.J.'s plans to run for governor," said Boise Mayor Dave Bieter who added that he was Balukoff's "warm up band," before introducing the candidate. "He's devoted years to making Boise schools great, often in spite of, not because of, the Legislature, the governor and the superintendent of Public Instruction."

But Balukoff doesn't want Idaho school chief Tom Luna's job. He took aim at incumbent, and presumptive, candidate, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter for being largely responsible for inadequate funding for public schools.

"These cutbacks have led Idaho to the bottom in nearly ever measure of student achievement," said Balukoff. "We can do better."

Otter will first have to face competition within his own party as Meridian Sen. Russ Fulcher has already announced his intention to challenge the governor in the May GOP primary.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sesquicentennial Suds: Utah Town Sells First Beer in 150 Years

Posted By on Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Residents of the small Northern Utah town of Hyde Park will still need to drive to Logan, Utah, if they want to buy liquor or wine, but when a local convenience store began selling beer Nov. 21, it was historic. It was the first sale of its kind since the town was founded by Mormon settlers in 1860.

"Everyone I've talked to seems to support the [law]," Hyde Park Maverik store manager Tiffany Dehek told Salt Lake City's KUTV-TV. Dehek said the store's goal was to make 24 percent of their sales from beer. "I don't think many people know about it yet. It's only been a few days."

A 64 percent majority of Hyde Park voters chose to upend the previous restrictions earlier this month. Backers said the community could use the extra sales tax revenues while opponents said alcohol was a corrupting influence.

"I don't drink alcohol, but if it could help generate revenue and help with property taxes, I'm all for it," resident Kevin Wheatley told KUTV.

Hyde Park's population is approximately 4,000.

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GOP Committeeman Wants Party to Drop Anti-17th Amendment Plank

Posted By on Sun, Nov 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

A North Idaho Republican leader has a bone to pick with his own party. He doesn't like a plank in the state GOP platform that calls for the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Simply put, the 17th Amendment empowers citizens to vote directly for their U.S. senators. Without it, state legislators would be the ones to select members of the U.S. Senate.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Coeur d'Alene Precinct Committeeman Matt Roetter is set to submit a resolution to his central committee this coming Tuesday, Nov. 26, to push back against his own party's plan to repeal the 17th Amendment.

"I don't like that," said Roetter. "I want to protect the right of the voters to select their own senators."

The original provisions of the Constitution allowed state legislatures the authority to choose senators as an effort to prevent the federal government from "absconding" powers of the states. But several high-profile instances of alleged corruption triggered the effort for change, led by reformers such as Secretary of State Williams Jennings Bryan. Ultimately, the 17th Amendment was adopted in May 1913.

Roetter pointed to what he called one of the most corrupt elections in U.S. history, according to the Press. A so-called "copper king," named William Clark, worth an estimated $50 million in 1899, bribed his way into office.

"He paid each legislator up to $10,000 each to vote him him," Roetter told the Press.

Roetter's resolution would also prevent his central committee from endorsing any candidate who supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment.

The 17th Amendment reads as follows:

"The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution."

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chris Christie and Butch Otter Will Be Two Elephants in the Room

Posted By on Sun, Nov 10, 2013 at 12:00 PM


He's the most popular figure in the Republican Party right now, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will head to Idaho in early December to spread around some of his political capital.

Christie, fresh from a landslide re-election to remain the Garden State's governor, will be in Coeur d'Alene Friday, Dec. 6 to raise funds for the GOP and, in particular, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter for his own re-election campaign. $50 gets you in the room at the Coeur d'Alene Resort. $1,000 gets you into a VIP reception with Christie and Otter.

Christie, 51, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, boosted his popularity and national profile with his adept handling of relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy wrecked havoc on his state. Christie fought hard for federal relief while comforting victims in devastated neighborhoods. But he also created a mini-tempest, at the height of the 2012 presidential election when some accused him of cozying up to President Barack Obama while touring the damage.

And he is the center of a current media storm as Time Magazine's current cover story. With the headline, "The Elephant In the Room, How Chris Christie Can Win Over the GOP," the magazine's cover shows the rotund Christie in profile.

"Well, he's obviously a big guy," said Time Executive Editor Michael Duffy. "He's obviously a big Republican. But he's also done a really huge thing here this week. He stood astride the Republican Party and said, 'Stop. We don't have to make our whole appeal about narrow base issues.' And that campaign showed it with the demographics you talked about."

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lawerence Denney to Announce Candidacy for Idaho Secretary of State

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 12:45 PM

Republican Rep. Lawerence Denney of Midvale, who was bounced from his perch as speaker of the Idaho House earlier this year in favor of Republican Rep. Scott Bedke of Oakley, will barnstorm across Idaho Thursday, Oct. 24, when he's expected to launch his bid to become Idaho Secretary of State.

Incumbent Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, 64, who was elected in 2002 with 77 percent of the vote and has held the office since, has yet to announce if he'll seek a fourth term.

Ysursa and Denney haven't always been the best of political buddies. In 2012, then-Speaker Denney tried to fire a couple of commissioners who had been tasked with redistricting Idaho's legislative districts when they couldn't come up with new districts that the Republican Party would have preferred. But Ysurusa was quick to refute Denney's action, reminding the then-Speaker that he had no authority to fire commissioners and they could only be replaced if they resigned.

According to internal Republican Central Committee communications obtained by Boise Weekly, Denney "will be flying to three different cities throughout the state, announcing his candidacy for the office of Secretary of State."

Denney has served in the Idaho House since 1996. He also served one term in the House from 1991-92. Denney has been a Southwest Idaho farmer since 1972.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Meet the Press: Is Labrador a General in a Republican Party 'Civil War'?

Posted By on Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Idaho GOP Rep. Raul Labrador didn't appear on a nationally televised Sunday morning news talk show today, but his ears must have been burning.

Labrador, who has racked up nearly a dozen appearances between NBC's Meet The Press and ABC's This Week, was mentioned on the NBC program this morning during a roundtable discussion about political brinksmanship in the wake of the recent partial federal government shutdown and the showdown between the far right wing of the Republican party and the White House.

"There are a lot of Conservatives, and I'm not talking about the leadership here; I'm talking about the Rep. Raul Labradors, the (Sen.) Ted Cruzes, the (Sen.) Mike Lees, who say, 'Look, the goal that the president has is to destroy the Republican Party, to fracture the Republican Party. We've got to dig in and not deal with this guy at all,'" said Meet the Press host David Gregory.

David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times, who has sat on more than a few roundtables with Labrador, didn't pull any punches.

"(President) Dwight Eisenhower had a phrase about a senator: 'He proves that there's no ultimate answer to how dumb a person can be,'" said Brooks. "When I look at how some Republicans conducted themselves, including the people you just mentioned, incredibly self-destructive. The question now is: Will the Republican Party have a civil war over the nature of the party? And I think we're beginning to see rumblings of that. The problem is, in order to have a civil war, you have to have two sides. The Tea Party has a side; they have a political movement, a think tank and a donor base. The other side [of the GOP] ... they don't have a side. They have [political action committee] American Crossroads. They have a cocktail party. What they need to do is build some institutions, some think tanks .. some grass-roots organizations to match the Tea Party. Otherwise the Tea Party will take over the party."

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