Troupis to challenge Idaho Attorney General Wasden

The candidate mistakenly claims support from Idaho's biggest GOP donor.

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comMarch 13, 2014 

Eagle lawyer and former legislative candidate C.T. "Chris" Troupis says it's time for Republican Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to go after three four-year terms.

"We live in an era in which political office has become something of an entitlement to a privileged few," Troupis said Wednesday to about 40 supporters at the Statehouse. "George Washington had the wisdom to leave office after two terms. It would be well with the republic if others followed that example."

The entry of Troupis means at least seven of Idaho's 10 statewide and congressional offices will feature GOP primaries this spring, bolstering party Chairman Barry Peterson's prediction of a historically busy campaign.

And it could be eight: Todd Hatfield has said he will challenge Controller Brandon Woolf.

With two days left to file for office, only U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane look to avoid an opponent in the May 20 primary.

Troupis said he aims to tap anti-incumbent and tea party sentiment fueling Sen. Russ Fulcher's challenge to GOP Gov. Butch Otter over Otter's state-run health insurance exchange.

Among those on hand Wednesday were Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, former Rep. Bob Forrey, R-Nampa, Second Amendment advocate Tony Snesko and GOP official Rod Beck.

Troupis won the 2011 federal court case advocated by Beck that allowed the GOP to close its primary to non-Republicans.

Though Wasden was among the first to sue to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Troupis said, "I think he should have done more."

A CALL TO RUN

Troupis said Wasden also hasn't done enough "to defend our liberty and natural resources, especially from a voracious federal government."

He won replies of "Amen!" and "That's right!" when he spoke about religious freedom.

"Our religious liberties are under constant assault by a national government and court system who believe they can impose their will upon the people," Troupis said, adding that he would "fight to defend our sacred right to practice our faith in peace."

Wasden was elected in 2002, re-elected in 2006 and ran without opposition in 2010. He said he welcomes the challenge. "That's exactly how democracy and a republican form of government operate," Wasden said.

Troupis said he made his decision last week, after praying with his wife, Maureen, and consulting with Charles Crane, of Eagle Christian Church.

"I don't know whether I was called to win, but I was called to run," Troupis told reporters after his speech. "If it's something you're qualified to do, you're capable of doing, you feel led by conviction about issues and what you can do for the state and the people - then it's within a broad penumbra of God's will for you."

MISSTATEMENT OF SUPPORT

Troupis said his campaign chairman is Boise businessman George Gersema and his three honorary co-chairs are Crane, Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, and Republican National Committeeman Damond Watkins, of Idaho Falls.

Troupis said he expected financial support from Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot, a billionaire who has spent millions in Idaho politics, including more than $50,000 to help Wasden in 2002.

Last week, Troupis met with VanderSloot and Watkins, who is VanderSloot's spokesman. Troupis said VanderSloot's backing was "a major factor" in his decision to begin a race just 10 weeks before the election.

"It gave me a lot of confidence that I can run and win ... because of the financial (support)," Troupis said. "You can't win a campaign against an incumbent like this without that."

But after the Statesman contacted Watkins for comment, Troupis said he had misunderstood the two businessmen. "It was my mistake," Troupis said.

Watkins said the trio did meet, but neither he nor VanderSloot has endorsed Troupis or Wasden.

"Frank was speaking in general terms that anybody who throws their hat in the ring should be commended because it's a tough thing to do," Watkins said. "He wasn't saying, 'I want you to run against Lawrence Wasden.' That would be a complete exaggeration."

Asked whether the error might make support for Troupis less likely, Watkins said, "Of any elected official, you want very close attention to detail, and this is an example. But I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and call it political naivete."

Troupis ran for the Idaho Senate in 2008, losing to Democratic Sen. Les Bock in Northwest Boise and Garden City. Bock received 58 percent of the vote.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

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