Capitol & State

New Fulcher ad offers tough love, says it's time for Otter to ride into the sunset

Sen. Russ Fulcher has a new ad that says Gov. Butch Otter has "earned our thanks" but "hasn't yet earned another term."

The spot, titled, "It's Time," features an image of frowning Otter paired with President Obama and an image of the U.S. Capitol rising in front of the Idaho Capitol like a menace in a horror film.

It closes with an image of a cowboy — Otter's lifelong avocation — riding into a beautiful orange sunset.

The 30-second spot follows a tough love approach, praising Otter for four decades of service, but linking him to backroom deals with lobbyists.

The new ad follows a  warm biographical ad introducing Fulcher to voters.

It'll be interesting to watch if the ad and Fulcher's persistent pressure get under Otter's skin, as he appears with Fulcher on Idaho Public TV at 8 p.m. tonight with Fulcher for the only debate between the principal candidates.

The ad opens with Otter, looking a bit peeved, against a cloudy desert-mountain landscape. A narrator, with a heavy cowboy or Southern accent, does the talking:

"Butch Otter has served us for decades and earned our thanks. But Idaho is hurting. Special interests in the Capitol cut backroom deals to line their pockets, while Idahoans suffer.

"Otter and the establishment brought Obamacare and Common Core to Idaho, infringed on our religious rights, tried to raise taxes and made us dependent on the federal government.

"So while Butch Otter has earned our thanks, he hasn't earned yet another term. Russ Fulcher for Governor. Because it's time."

I was unaware that Otter has infringed on religious liberty, so I asked Fulcher's campaign manager, China Gum to explain. Here's what she said:

"The religious liberty amendment would have allowed Idaho employers to buy plans on the Ottercare exchange that would not cover abortion inducing drugs. Many Idaho employers including charities and churches philosophically disagree with providing abortion inducing drugs to their employees. While Senator Fulcher was crucial to the motion that moved the amendment forward, the governor and his lobbyists/cronies/special interest supporters opposed it."

I've also asked the Otter campaign for comment. If I hear back, I'll try to update this post. But I'm on tonight's debate panel and may not have a chance.