State Politics

Asked who they back for president, Southwest Idaho candidates struggle, demur

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton speak over each other during their second presidential debate Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis.
Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton speak over each other during their second presidential debate Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis. AP

Of all the questions the Statesman asked candidates in this year’s Voters Guide questionnaire, the toughest might have been: “Do you support your party’s presidential nominee?”

Many struggled with their answer. It’s not surprising, given the historically low approval ratings for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, both of whom lost Idaho in primary and caucus contests last spring. Nationally and in Idaho, down-ballot candidates and other officeholders have struggled with the endorsement question all year, Republicans more than Democrats.

In state legislative races, candidates bobbed and weaved around giving a straight answer on the endorsement question. The rundown in 48 Southern Idaho contests:

▪ Of 36 Democrats running, 21 said they supported Clinton, some with glowing praise, others with reservations.

I do not completely support (Clinton’s) stances on some issues. I do stand with the party in her nomination. She is competent, intelligent and capable of doing the duty of president.

Robert Winder, Democrat, House District 21 candidate (Boise-Meridian)

▪ Of 45 Republicans, 16 said they supported Trump. Most cited even stronger reservations or said they backed him only out of party loyalty.

(Trump) was not my first or second, third or fourth choice, but he is our nominee.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, District 11 (Canyon County)

▪ Seven candidates are running as independents, write-ins or on third-party lines and their responses varied widely.

▪ Two Republicans and one Democrat refused to disclose their choice, with District 16 Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City, taking the time to write: “Candidate intentionally left blank.”

I will not announce who I will vote for in this forum as it is my private right to vote for who I feel is the best suited for the job.

Ryan McDonald, Republican, Senate candidate, District 16 (Boise)

▪ Eight candidates — two Democrats, one Libertarian and five Republicans — did not answer the presidential question.

▪ Twenty candidates did not respond to the questionnaire at all: one Constitution party candidate, five Democrats and 14 Republicans.

▪ Six candidates supported third-party candidates or no candidate at all.

I do not believe (Trump) truly embodies conservative principles and what the Republican party stands for. ... I will be voting for a third-party candidate.

Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, District 22 (South Ada County)

▪ Fourteen candidates — seven Democrats, six Republicans and one independent — equivocated in their responses, were undecided or did not respond directly to the question.

I would rather focus on the local election, and the issues we face in Idaho.

Shana Tremaine, Democrat, House candidate, District 12 (Nampa)

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

  Comments