Among the most contested races in the Idaho Legislature is Boise’s District 15 A House contest. Republican incumbent Rep. Lynn Luker faces Democrat Steve Berch in a rematch of their 2014 tilt, in which Luker prevailed by only 416 of some 12,800 votes cast.
The closeness of this race reflects the conflicted feelings of our Editorial Board after interviewing both men and considering their experience. We concluded that either Luker or Berch would likely do well by the district, but we were unanimous in our choice for Luker because of his legal skills and willingness to think independently even when his GOP brethren are headed herd-like in the opposite direction.
Two key examples of that came in 2014 when Luker stood firm and voted against the so-called “ag-gag” bill (which was struck down as unconstitutional a year later) and the guns-on-campus measure he objected to after hearing from a number of his constituents. He voted against two of three “Luna laws” a few years back and voted against an anti-union bill that he warned was going to end up in court (and it did). Luker is also on record opposing the $2 million state expenditure to underwrite this year’s GOP presidential primary, which was closed to all but registered Republicans.
Though we don’t agree with every vote or move Luker has made in his 10 years in the Legislature, we credit him with thinking votes through before just going along with his party — and even reaching out to Democrats to craft legislation. In the last session he co-sponsored a bill along with Rep. John Rusche, D- Lewiston, to create the office of Inspector General — a much needed bit of oversight in state government.
For his part, Berch has been tenacious and one of the most hardworking candidates of either party anywhere in the Treasure Valley. Just weeks after losing to Luker he announced fairly early in 2015 that he was running again and began knocking on doors.
Berch has done a good job collaborating with his colleagues on the Greater Boise Auditorium District over the past three years, but we feel we would miss the legal scrutiny, common sense approach and that independent thinking Luker so often brings to his Republican caucus. Once again going against the GOP crowd, Luker opposed the $1 million Wolf Control Board — not because he is “a wolf hugger,” he said, but because he believes issuing tags to hunters is a better way to go about it.
District 15 A voters have a difficult choice, but we’ll be the first to say they have better candidates to pick from than are found in many other races on our ballots this year — and that is owing to fact that these two men have character and have done a great job getting out to listen to their constituents.
Unsigned Editorial Board opinions express the consensus of the Statesman’s editorial board. To comment on an editorial or suggest a topic, email editorial@idaho statesman.com.