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LeFavour, Simpson Map Stark Contrasts on Economy, Education and Gender-Based Discrimination

The sound and the flurry before the November 6 election

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Democratic challenger Sen. Nicole LeFavour tried to stay on offense, lobbing a flurry of attacks, in two debates with incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Simpson, representing Idaho's 2nd Congressional District.

Revolving primarily around taxes, the national deficit and education, LeFavour tagged Simpson in an Oct. 23 face-off as "part of the problem."

"The nation's most prosperous small business would be delighted to be making $250,000 in profit," she said. "I think that it is time that they did pay their fair share."

Simpson responded by saying "the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans paid 38 percent ... and the top 10 percent paid 70 percent of federal income taxes."

LeFavour countered by proposing that tax rates should be restored to 2000 levels.

"We have cut budgets again and again and again," said LeFavour. "Every time we do, we see a loss of jobs."

Asked to weigh in on Idaho propositions to support or reject the so-called Luna Laws, LeFavour called Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Students Come First initiatives "a very serious threat to public education."

But Simpson chose to skirt the issue, saying, "The people of Idaho are going to make that determination."

Meeting again Oct. 28, the candidates spent a good amount of time debating gender equality, including Simpson's vote against the so-called Lilly Ledbetter Act, which removed the statute of limitations for employees to bring pay-discrimination suit against employers.

Simpson said the measure came to the House floor with little to no discussion.

"We should have looked at increasing the statute of limitations," Simpson said when asked for an alternative option to address gender-based pay discrimination.

But LeFavour quickly fired back.

"Tell that to the women who have finally been able to bring a [discrimination] suit," she said. "Idaho has one of the worst records of unfair pay for women."

During the final debate, LeFavour also took note of Simpson's repeated use of her first name during the face-off. LeFavour's criticism was greeted with a roll of the eyes from Simpson, but the seven-term congressman ultimately corrected himself, agreeing to refer to the Democratic candidate as "Sen. LeFavour," rather than "Nicole."