Lori Den Hartog, 36, won the 2014 contest for an open seat vacated when Russ Fulcher ran for governor. She beat Charles Pratt Porter by 253 votes out of 3,600 cast. Her father, John Vander Woude, represents the same district and is the House GOP majority caucus chair.
Porter, 55, a salesman active with Ada County Republicans, said his priority in running was to “reclaim the people’s God-given rights (that) have been stolen by the federal government.” Strengthening gun rights and asserting local control over schools were his follow-up concerns, according to his answers to an Idaho Statesman questionnaire.
Den Hartog said her priority was to reduce Idaho’s “dependence upon the federal government.” Some 35 percent of Idaho’s annual spending comes from the federal government, which “means that Idaho does not control its own destiny,” she said. Education and economic development are her next priorities. On the latter, she said, she does not support a program that offers tax incentives to relocating businesses and supported tax policies that are “fair to all businesses.”
A third candidate, Robert “Ernie” Terrell, is on the ballot but told the Statesman last week he has quit the race and is supporting Porter.
Health care: On expanding Medicaid to help Idaho’s low-income uninsured, Porter said he is opposed and that the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, “should be thrown in the trash.” Den Hartog also opposes Medicaid expansion, saying it would “expand a system that is broken.” Neither candidate offered specifics for how to help the 78,000 state residents who can’t obtain health coverage.
Education: Both cited the state’s constitutional obligation to fund public schools, as Republican candidates have consistently in response to questions about education. Porter said “families, churches and communities must encourage the young to adopt a love of learning,” and said not all students need to go on to college. Den Hartog supported ongoing increases in school funding and said the state “needs to remove regulatory barriers” to give local districts more control. Idaho colleges and universities “need to make the case” to high school students that college is worth the cost of attending, she said.
States’ rights: Both candidates embrace a forceful states rights point of view in relation to the federal government. Porter said the state should manage public lands. Den Hartog said the state was within its power to pre-empt locally driven initiatives, just as minimum wage increases.
District 22 (Kuna/Meridian) Senate GOP primary
▪ Sen. Lori Den Hartog, 36, Meridian: Homemaker; seeking second term.
▪ Charles Porter, 55, Kuna: Salesman; ran against Den Hartog in 2014.