The Idaho Legislature can never have too much nuts-and-bolts governing experience, the likes of which Betty Richardson has to offer.
Richardson is former chairwoman of the Idaho Industrial Commission. In 1993, she parlayed that appointment into a seven-year run heading Idahos U.S. attorneys office.
This is practical experience settling workers compensation disputes and prosecuting federal crimes that transcends party lines. And it makes Richardson prepared, and uniquely suited, to represent West Boises legislative District 15 in the state Senate.
Make no mistake, Richardson is a prominent Democrat, a former county party chairwoman who ran against then-U.S. Rep. Butch Otter in 2002. Her positions on the issues dont stray too far from the party line. She opposes the Students Come First education overhaul, favors a thorough review of sales tax exemptions, and supports an independent ethics commission. Her views are clear, and she would be a strong advocate for them.
By contrast, Republican Fred Martin is tougher to read. In an interview, he was noncommittal on Students Come First, but was uneasy about the way the plan was unveiled abruptly at the start of the 2011 session. Where Richardson voiced clear opposition to a bill requiring women to undergo an ultrasound prior to abortion, Martin was again vague. Martin doesnt come across as an ideologue his opposition to the closed GOP primary is clear and principled.
But in an open race, the decision comes down to life experience and strength on the issues. Both metrics favor Richardson.
LYNN LUKER, STEVE BERCH
In Republican Lynn Luker, voters have a detail-oriented six-year incumbent. And hes shown an independent streak: He opposed two Students Come First bills in 2011 because, at the time, he was worried that the state had failed to dedicate funds for merit pay and technology.
In a race between two repeat candidates, Democrat Steve Berch preaches long-term strategic thinking in job creation and education. He comes across as long-winded but also as a hard-working campaigner who would take this job seriously. His Republican opponent, Mark Patterson, declined to meet with the editorial board.