Leave Them Boxes Alone 

A candidate takes on the Statesman

As the old saying goes, "Never argue with somebody who buys ink by the barrel." But when none of that ink is getting spilled on your behalf, maybe it's time to pick a fight. Thus was born Andy Hedden-Nicely's boycott of the Idaho Statesman.

The United Party candidate (and former BW publisher) got frustrated because pre-primary coverage by the state's largest daily was focused only on Democrats and Republicans, so he complained. Editors there replied that they'd cover him when the primaries were over, as was their tradition, but that wasn't good enough. Other papers, including the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa and the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review, were giving him ink when he showed up for candidate forums, why not the Statesman?

When Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert and publisher Mike Petrak gave Hedden-Nicely no satisfaction, he announced the boycott. And that's when things got hairy between Petrak and Hedden-Nicely. When Petrak's staff discovered boycott stickers on their newspaper boxes, he began firing off harshly-worded e-mails to Hedden-Nicely with saber-rattling phraseology.

Finally, last Friday, Petrak gave Hedden-Nicely an ultimatum: remove any and all stickers from our boxes, today, or face legal action. Although Hedden-Nicely said none of the stickers were his doing, that didn't seem like enough for Petrak. Still, as of Tuesday, Hedden-Nicely was a free man.

"I haven't seen a lawsuit show up on my desk," Hedden-Nicely said. Hedden-Nicely is the only United Party candidate in the running for the First Congressional District seat now held by U.S. Rep. Butch Otter. The United Party is the political party formerly known as the Natural Law Party; they opted to change their name to help Hedden-Nicely make his run.

Of course, the open seat has attracted a passel of Republicans who yearn to be called "Congressman," and one prominent Democratic candidate, Larry Grant of Fruitland, opposing a lesser-known Democrat from Coeur d'Alene, Cecil Kelly.

As for Hedden-Nicely, he continues his boycott. But he does have word from Petrak that he'll get coverage after May 23.

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