Our View: Competition may enliven Idaho primary

October 25, 2013 

Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson says there is so much political activity going on so far in advance of next year's May primary that it's kind of like a "fever."

He is hard-pressed to remember when there were so many candidates declaring so early against established statewide and congressional officeholders. He's not going to be surprised to see more of the same, because passionate Idahoans are concerned about their government, unpopular federal policies and, these days, grass-roots groups seem capable of organizing and tapping candidates overnight.

Like Peterson, we think competition within and certainly beyond the Republican Party is healthy and good for Idaho. It is as the proverb says: "Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

No one in municipal, county, district, statewide or federal office should have a binding reservation for another term. There should be no business-as-usual nod or wink to incumbents.

Should Idaho Sen. Russell Fulcher decide after his "listening tour" to take on Gov. Butch Otter in the primary, we will just have to see how far Fulcher can ride opposition to an Idaho health exchange up a steep election trail. The longtime Meridian legislator says he would not be running so much against Otter as against an "attitude of acquiesence" to federal policies on environmental regulations, resource management and health care.

Fulcher believes it would have been better to allow the federal government to fully manage the Affordable Care Act in Idaho, accept no money for the website and assistance and thereby maintain a legal standing that would enable it to fight aspects of the law Idahoans reject.

Rather than just attempting to tattoo Otter and Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, for instance, as mainstream career politician-survivors, challengers like Fulcher and Simpson opponent Bryan Smith are going to have to articulate problem-solving ideas beyond citing conservative doctrine. Though we don't expect Rep. Raul Labrador to face a primary opponent, who knows what will happen in this post-shutdown atmosphere of frustration?

We do not yet know if Ben Ysursa will be running again for secretary of state. We do know that former House Speaker Lawrence Denney of Midvale is running. State Superintendent Tom Luna has not said he is running again, but if he does, Democrats are eyeing the race and there is vulnerability that could draw Republican opposition.

We know Democrats are sizing up how much fight and money will be left after the primary dust settles around Republican victors. Will that process open doors for Democrats in the general election? Tuesday we received a release from the Idaho Democratic Party inviting independents to join their cause.

We're off to the primary races, which are just over 200 days away.

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