State Politics

Will Idaho leaders back Trump as nominee?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, reacts as businessman Donald Trump speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, right, reacts as businessman Donald Trump speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Detroit. AP

Gov. Butch Otter (supports John Kasich): “I’m all in, whoever gets the nomination.”

In Idaho’s primary, “I would expect Rubio first, and somewhere close in that mix, Cruz, and then Trump, and I’m hopeful that John (Kasich) will show well.” Trump has brought “excitement” to the campaign, but Otter advised him to be more positive and “soften up” his demeanor. “I believe he’s going to have to start being a little more definitive — how is he going to create these jobs, other than saying, ‘I’m going to deal with the Chinese.’”

Lt. Gov. Brad Little (no primary endorsement): Will support GOP nominee.

“Trump is obviously locked in with people’s frustrations, with everything that’s taken place,” Little said. He added: “I’m concerned about the tenor of the debate, but I also recognize that the more bombastic the statements, the more ink they get. ... Being the responsible adult in the room, there’s no room left on the lead-in to the media. I don’t know what we’re going to do about that. I think it’s bad.”

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (no primary endorsement): “If (Trump is) the nominee, I’ll support him.”

Denney said polls predict Trump wins Idaho, and he knows nothing more than that. Trump “would not be my first choice. However, I think it’s probably more important who he gathers up to put around him, and that would be very important to me, who his cabinet is.”

State Controller Brandon Woolf (supports Marco Rubio): Hopes Republicans “set aside any bitter feelings ... and coalesce behind our party’s nominee.”

Said Woolf: “It appears none of the candidates is currently positioned to win the Idaho primary with a majority share, thus we’re likely to see Idaho’s delegates apportioned out among those who garner at least 20 percent.” He did not address Trump, but said the “success of the nomination process in uniting the party, in my opinion, hinges greatly upon the party’s national leaders.”

State Treasurer Ron Crane (supports Ted Cruz): “I plan to support whoever the GOP nominee is.”

“This is one of the most unusual years in presidential politics that I have ever experienced and it defies all conventional wisdom,” Crane said. Cruz has a “well organized ground game in Idaho,” but that hasn’t played a big role in earlier states. “Trump has surprised everybody. ... He is a star to a large group of folks and he has a very engaging persona. He also has struck a nerve with many of the things he has said and promoted.”

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (no primary endorsement): Declined to address Trump, but issued a statement: “In many ways, this election cycle is similar to the one we had here in Idaho two years ago, when I suggested there was a fight taking place for the heart and soul of the Idaho Republican Party. This time, however, the fight is on a grander scale, one not just for the heart and soul of the national Republican Party but for the soul of the nation as a whole.”

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill (no primary endorsement): “I’ll support (Trump) if he’s the nominee, but he’s certainly not my first choice, or my second choice, or my third choice. ... I don’t want to say anything too bad, because he may be the person I end up supporting for president.”

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (no primary endorsement): “I am an elected Republican official and as long as I have been that I have supported the Republicans from top to bottom on a ballot. Beyond that I don’t plan to comment further.”

House Speaker Scott Bedke (no primary endorsement): “I plan to support whoever the GOP nominee is.”

“I suspect Donald Trump will do well (in the primary). I expect Cruz to do well. I expect Kasich maybe to do better.” What Trump is saying, said Bedke, “obviously is resonating in the body politic.”

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (no endorsement): “If (Trump’s) the candidate I’ll support him. I don’t have any problem with that at all. At least you know where he’s at. He says what he thinks. I appreciate that about a guy that’ll stand up and say this is how it is. And that’s resonating with a lot people, including myself.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (supports Rubio): Regarding Trump: “I don’t have to make that decision yet. Who knows with all that turbulence out there, including an alternative conservative candidate, ... what will happen.”

“Donald Trump is not a conservative. In the past, he said he was very much pro-choice and he favored gun control. I’m always distrustful of people who take a position simply because they are running on a particular ticket. He’s been an avid supporter of many liberal Democrats. ... I’ve been a member of the Republican Party for four decades. My party is not interested in insulting woman, the handicapped, people of a particular religion or race, or the pope. That’s not the party I’ve been a member of the last four decades.”

Risch said his “primary goal” is to see that Hillary Clinton does not become president. “I believe Marco Rubio is far and away the best person to ensure that doesn’t happen. If Donald Trump is nominated, I have grave doubts about the outcome of the election and Hillary Clinton getting elected.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo (no primary endorsement): “I will support the party’s nominee.”

Trump, Crapo said through a spokesman, “has certainly captured what many people around the country are feeling.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (no primary endorsement): Didn’t say if he would support a Trump nomination.

“It is important that people take the time to go and vote. I know that Rubio has a robust campaign effort in the state as well as Kasich and Cruz. ... Donald Trump is a very successful businessman and a master at earning ‘free media.’ ... Our nation is facing difficult issues and we need a president that can lead with respect, honor and dignity.”

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (supports Ted Cruz): Didn’t say if he would support a Trump nomination.

He noted that Sen. Cruz and his father will campaign in Idaho this weekend. “I’ve been working hard to make sure Ted Cruz is the Republican nominee and I believe that he will do very well in Idaho. I think Sen. Cruz is the only candidate that can unite conservatives in the Republican party and is the best positioned to beat Hilary Clinton in the general election.”

State GOP committee chairman Steve Yates: “I have to avoid addressing individual candidates. We’ve got a diverse field of candidates, including their approaches to campaigning. Mr Trump seems to be following a very different model of sizable rallies and earned media coverage as opposed to the traditional ground game. Its really going to be a test of what are the limits of these competing models.”

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

Cruz, Rubio in Idaho this weekend

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Coeur d’Alene 2 p.m. Saturday at the North Idaho Fairgrounds. That event is free to the public.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will speak in Idaho Falls at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, at an airport hanger owned by Melaleuca. A Boise rally will be at 7:30 p.m., tentatively set for the Jackson Jet Center at the Boise Airport. Both Rubio events are free to the public, but attendees need to register ahead of time. Visit or find a link at

Donald Trump is not expected to visit Idaho, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has not announced any Idaho plans.