Sali vs. ?

Nampa Republican announces run for 1st District seat


While Democratic challengers have been quick to sign up to take on Rep. Bill Sali for the state's 1st District Congressional seat, Republican candidates had yet to make an appearance—until now. Matt Salisbury, a 34-year-old Nampa businessman and military veteran, announced last week that he is seeking the Republican nomination.

While his elected-office experience is limited to the Republican Precinct Committee, Salisbury said he still has plenty of experience to draw from, after a childhood as the son of a political activist and a frequent volunteer in other political campaigns. "There are show horses and work horses, and so far I've been a work horse," he said.

The father of three said he's the right candidate to offer voters an alternative. "[Voters] deserve a better choice than the incumbent," he said. "[The last election] left so many Republicans in that district unsatisfied and unhappy."

Salisbury calls himself a lifelong Republican, who holds the core Republican values, and said he probably agrees closely with Sali on many issues, but said Sali has been too controversial. "The last thing we need is a polarizing figure," he said.

"There are issues important to me after coming back from Iraq that are not typical Republican issues," the Iraq war veteran said. "The party is changing."

Salisbury said it is important for the United States to see things through to the end, although he thinks there are better approaches to establishing a lasting democracy in Iraq.

"There is not a North American, Anglo-European solution," he said. "We have to be willing to expand our horizons and ditch the dogma."

For his part, Salisbury stresses the importance of compromise.

Instead, if elected, he promises to unite voters and focus on the job rather than on the next election. "The public trust is served by a unifier rather than someone who polarizes voters," Salisbury said. "The founding fathers did not intend for politicking and running for public office to begin the day after you take office."

He said he will be willing to work with Democrats, and his campaign will champion the causes of a balanced budget, the environment and energy policy, although he declined to get into specifics.

Salisbury said he's received many calls expressing support for his candidacy. But Bryan Fischer, the director of the Idaho Values Alliance and a Sali ally, has already flagged Salisbury as not pro-life enough for his tastes.

Some political insiders are also talking about the possibility of a run by Robert Vasquez, who ran against Sali in the last Republican primary. In an interview, Vasquez didn't say no, but didn't say yes, either.

Democrats Larry Grant, who lost to Sali in 20006, and Rand Lewis have both said they intend to run against Sali.