Familiar Talking Points Define North Idaho Gubernatorial Debate

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There will be scant opportunity to check out the Idaho gubernatorial candidates side-by side. Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter refused to participate in a recent Twin Falls forum and the City Club of Boise announced that since all of the candidates couldn't attend an event, they wouldn't be holding a forum this year (though they will host a gathering to watch a televised debate in Idaho Falls). 

So voters in North Idaho took advantage of a rare gathering of Idaho gubernatorial candidates Oct. 3, packing the Coeur d'Alene Library to watch Otter and his challengers: Democrat A.J. Balukoff, Libertarian John Bujak and Independent candidate Pro-Life.

"I would like to thank Governor Otter for gracing us with his presence," said Bujak.

This morning's Coeur d'Alene Press reports that there was "very little, if any, of what was said will provide material for late-night comedy shows, unlike a primary debate earlier this year."

"Governor Otter, on your watch, we are second to the last [in the country] in state funding for public education," said Balukoff.

But Otter pushed back, saying "It's not how much money you spend, it's how you spend the money. We're spending it smarter than these other states."

Otter also took the opportunity to defend the Idaho's state-run health insurance marketplace.

"I wanted Idahoans making decisions about one of the most important things that we have in Idaho, and that's our health care system," said the governor.

Which inspired Balukoff to advocate for an expansion of Medicaid to assist more of Idaho's uninsured people.

"We are already paying for their care when they show up at emergency rooms. We pay for that through taxes, through the state general fund taxes, and we also are paying federal taxes that we don't get back by not expanding Medicaid," said Balukoff.

The Press reports that Friday's event was standing-room-only.