The retirement of Republican Congressman Raul Labrador offers the First District the opportunity to send a fresh voice to Washington, and one that is more focused on what Idaho needs from Congress.
Seeking to replace Labrador are Democrat Christina McNeil and Republican Russ Fulcher.
Fulcher is the best choice of the two.
McNeil is a newcomer to Idaho politics. She boasts of not being beholden to any individual or special interest group. Her nearly empty campaign account would suggest that is true. She spent less than $5,000 in the primary election, and has raised only another $5,000 for the general election.
While that could mean, as McNeil says, that she is independent of outside influences, it could also suggest a failure to excite Idaho residents with her message.
Still, she has traveled throughout the district from Bonners Ferry to Silver City. Her major issues are infrastructure, jobs, expanding the agricultural and manufacturing economies, education and health care.
Those are the right priorities, but McNeil’s lack of experience in how the political process works could limit her influence and ability to advocate on behalf of Idahoans should she be elected. Still, she is an impressive individual who should continue to pursue public office.
Fulcher, on the other hand, is no newcomer to Idaho politics. He served in the state senate and has run unsuccessfully for governor.
In the Legislature, he generally voted with the more conservative Republican caucus. But he also showed himself to be interested in exploring practical solutions to complex issues, and was open to listening to other opinions. Washington could use that sort of open-mindedness in this divisive era.
Fulcher’s past job experience with the international operations of Micron Technology also positions him to quickly contribute expertise on issues such as international trade, immigration and intellectual property.
He has also said that he could work productively with Mike Simpson, the Second District congressman, for the good of the state. That sort of cooperation has been too often lacking in Idaho’s two-person delegation. And, refreshingly in the current political climate, he says “I don’t want this job bad enough to do something stupid to get it.”
We endorse Russ Fulcher as the best candidate for First Congressional District.
Unsigned editorials represent the opinion of the Statesman editorial board.