It's tough to drum up public interest in a non-presidential year primary election. We've provided a forum for debate at Electionland, but only a few of you have taken the initiative to ask candidates questions.
The Statesman now has its Voter Guide up, profiling 85 candidates in 33 races, including Treasure Valley legislative races. The Statesman got a pretty good response rate to their predictable questions (count the number of candidates whose most recent read is Going Rogue and we'll give you a cookie), providing one of the only places to find some candidate positions.
Tomorrow, Tea Party Boise is holding a candidate forum at Eagle High School (6 p.m., 574 Park Lane, Eagle) to focus in on candidates for U.S. Congress. Tea Partiers will ask about: FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, CORRUPTION & ETHICS, SOVEREIGNTY & STATE’S RIGHTS and LIBERTY in all caps. (The invite says it's for the "voting public," so bring your birth certificate!)
On May 4, Idaho Public Television hosts its first Idaho Debates debate with Idaho Supreme Court Justice candidates John Bradbury and Roger Burdick, starting at 8 p.m. and limited to 30 minutes. On May 9, candidates in the Second Congressional District—Chick Heileson, Russ Mathews and Mike Simpson—will debate, starting at 7 p.m.
Simpson is being a good sport here; Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter has refused to debate on Public Television for years and Sen. Mike Crapo also turned down the League of Women Voters, which sponsors the Idaho PTV debates.
On May 11, First Congressional District candidates Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador will try to out-conservative one another on tax-payer funded public television and on May 18, Rex Rammell and Sharon Ullman will take turns pummeling the ghost of Otter—the former with an inflatable dinosaur—as they seek to peel off votes from the incumbent governor. Both debates begin at 8 p.m.
You'll note that several candidates are missing from the list, including Otter and Crapo, as we mentioned. Otter makes a good point in his refusal to participate, though it appears to be a hollow excuse. Otter told the League that he deplores the decision to limit participation to active candidates, thereby excluding fellas like the affable Pete Peterson.
“Mr. Otter has always objected to the fact that we’ve established criteria for who should participate,” said Elinor Chehey, debate coordinator for the League.
Chehey sent us a .pdf of a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Arkansas Public Television to establish objective criteria for participants in political debates, Arkansas Educational Television Commission v. Forbes. Still, we think Pete ought to be included in the debate, especially since an unnamed public television personality reportedly has a pair of Beat Butch briefs displayed on an official bulletin board.
Peterson makes the point that he's had campaign events in London and is airing television commercials in Kentucky (what)? And that his platform includes beating Butch, having a good time and increasing voter turnout. He's repeatedly said he does not want to be governor.
On May 11, the Eagle Chamber of Commerce will hold a debate for Legislative candidates from Eagle. It is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Eagle Nazarene Church, 1001 West State St. Lunch is available for a charge and there are free seats for observers.
We'll let you know about the other debates out there next week.