Idaho Dem Chairman: Bad GOP Candidates Dread Election Day
The great thing about the United States is that voters have the last word. And that should give many Idaho GOP candidates pause.
Think of the sinking feeling that Rep. Phil Hart, the timber thief and tax cheat from North Idaho, must have felt as this year’s primary approached. No amount of help from GOP bosses could stop voters from holding him to account. No amount of help can save flawed candidates like District 10’s Brandon Hixon of Canyon County.
You would think with all the ethics problems in the GOP, they would be concerned about how their candidates behave. Former Sen. John McGee was a punch line for the rest of the state, but in Canyon County he was a punch in the gut. Former Canyon County Prosecutor John Bujak continues to vacuum tax dollars into oblivion. And Canyon County’s own Ron Crane embarrassed voters by spending tax dollars on New York City limousines.
As for Mr. Hixon, I have nothing personal against him. But he does have a history of both criminal and civil matters that indicate a problem. Yes, he is young and his youthful drinking, fighting and multiple collection cases can be forgiven, but they are also foreboding. Canyon County simply does not need any more elected officials who have a disregard for the law. Even the conservative editorial board at the Idaho-Press Tribune chose to endorse the strong Democratic Candidate Travis Manning over Hixon.
Unfortunately, Mr. Hixon isn’t alone as a candidate who should dread Election Day. At the top of the list is Raul Labrador. He has missed more votes than anyone in the Idaho delegation, more than any of his predecessors and more than most of the other 435 members of the U. S. House of Representatives. When called to account for absenteeism, he agreed that he had missed too many votes and vowed to do better. But just one day later he was off campaigning for others in Florida, missing another round of votes. In the 2nd Congressional District, Mike Simpson is likely wishing he’d paid as much attention to Main Street as he did to Wall Street.
Other GOP legislative candidates with problems include Dan Johnson, a candidate in District 6 who has received the majority of campaign donations from the same contributors whose taxes got cut by his deciding vote on the tax cut for the top 18 percent of wealthiest Idahoans that leaves everybody else holding the bag. There’s Mitch Toryanski, State Senate candidate in Boise’s District 18, who favored the Luna Laws and championed an assault on the medical liberty of women despite overwhelming opposition by his constituents. There is Tom Loertscher in eastern Idaho’s District 32 who killed a bill that required a public hearing when a road is to be declared private—a few months before he filed a lawsuit to have roads across his property declared private. There is Mark Paterson in Ada County’s District 15 who has said it doesn’t matter if Idaho has rotten schools because we can always hire qualified workers from other states. And, there is Vito Barbieri, in northern Idaho’s District 2, who says our public school system is “Godless” and people should pull their kids out. That’s fine for those who can afford private school or have time to home-school, but it just doesn’t work for most Idaho families.
The point here is that the GOP is letting the public down. Nobody is forced to run for public office and anyone who does should be held to a higher standard. So, as a voter, you have the last word. You have the ability to send those candidates home that you cannot trust. Use it.
By Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant