Beginning today, I’m covering the Idaho Governor’s race and will frequently post stories and candidate information in my column, Letters from the West.
I’m gathering string for a story later this week and here are a few things I’ve learned. Conservatives are still angry with Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri of Dalton Gardens told me this week.
But he’s not sure they are angry enough to vote for Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. He’s not going to, he said. But he might not vote for governor at all.
Conservatives are balancing two negatives, Barbieri said. On one side is Otter’s ability to bring Legislative leaders behind him for such policy initiatives as Medicaid expansion or increasing education spending, something Balukoff likely won’t be able to do.
On the other side Conservatives don’t like the idea of having a Democrat appoint hundreds of jobs throughout state government and controlling the agenda.
“Conservatives want to punish Butch,” Barbieri said.
But they don’t want to hurt their own interests. Barbieri doesn’t know what he will do personally yet. He’s watching what Otter does.
Kootenai County is critical to victory for both Otter and Balukoff. Otter lost Kootenai to Sen. Russ Fulcher in the primary and many moderate Republicans fell across the north in response to their support for the Idaho Health Exchange, Barbieri said.
Despite this, Barbieri made one prediction: “Kootenai County will not go Democratic.”