Idaho Debates panel votes to kill House and Senate events due to late filings

Idaho voters will not have statewide debates in the races for U.S. Congress because Democratic candidates did not turn their paperwork in on time.

The deadline for turning in the proof required to show they have active campaigns was Sept. 2, and none of the three Democrats — Jerry Sturgill, James Piotrowski, Jennifer Martinez — had turned in their responses sent by Idaho Public Television.

The Idaho Debates has been a partnership of the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters of Idaho and Idaho Public Television for 30 years. It has become more formalized over time and now is run by a five-member board, with three from public TV and one each from the two nonprofits.

Melissa Davlin, the host and one of the board members, said she contacted all three campaigns, as well as the candidates for the Constitution Party, who had turned in their paperwork on time. Sturgill and Piotrowski turned in the paperwork showing they met the standards, but not until Wednesday, Sept. 14.

The board voted later that day not to accept the paperwork and to eliminate the House and Senate debates. In those races, Sturgill is challenging Republican Sen. Mike Crapo; Piotrowski is challenging GOP Rep. Raul Labrador; and Martinez is challenging GOP Rep. Mike Simpson.

Congressman Labrador has participated in every debate since first running in 2010. We are confident that he understands the importance of public discourse.

Piotrowski Campaign Manager Kelsey Hamilton

“What it came to was if we bend the rules for the Democrats, why wouldn’t we bend the rules for the Constitution Party candidates,” Davlin said.

Piotrowski’s campaign manager, Kelsey Hamilton, said they hope to schedule a debate “with another media outlet.”

“It is critical for voters to hear the candidates discuss policy issues unfiltered and face to face,” she said.

For Idaho Debates, all that’s left is an Oct. 28 event between the two candidates for Idaho Supreme Court, Robyn Brody and Curt McKenzie.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker


The Idaho debate between Idaho Supreme Court candidates Robyn Brody and Curt McKenzie is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28 on Idaho Public Television at 8:00 pm MT.