Hopefuls unveil plans, hit campaign trail in governor's race
By KIMBERLEE KRUESI
Feb. 04, 2018
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — New policy rollouts. Campaign stops. Candidate forums. Idaho's 2018 gubernatorial election is ramping up as the May primary election inches closer.
Here's a roundup of what some of the top gubernatorial candidates have been up to along the campaign trail:
The Republican congressman rolled out a new six-point plan Tuesday targeted at dismantling so-called political perks.
If elected, Labrador said he would work to enact constitutional term limits for statewide elected officials and state lawmakers and increase penalties for officials who fail to disclose conflicts of interest.
He also said he will require all current department heads to submit their resignation and reapply for their position — a common practice when a new administration takes over — and rehire only those who show a commitment to his vision for the state.
"The establishment is scared of what I will do as governor to break the cycle of cronyism in government," Labrador said. "Those who feel entitled to enrich themselves on the backs of taxpayers have to be stopped."
Some of Labrador's proposals are similar to those of Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist, who also has encouraged term limits and ending a current pension perk that lets longtime lawmakers "spike" their benefits by taking a higher-paid state appointment for 42 months at the end of their careers.
The Republican lieutenant governor has been busy traveling the state with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter defending a plan that allows insurance companies to sell cheap policies that don't include key provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Idaho is believed to be the first state to take formal steps without prior federal approval for creating policies that do not comply with the Obama-era health care law. Some health care experts have deemed the move legally dubious, but Little's gubernatorial campaign has come out in full force for the plan, sending out emails, mailers and social media blasts touting its benefits.
At the time the plan was unveiled earlier this month, Otter defended Little's involvement and denied he was stepping in to boost Little's campaign. Otter, a three-term governor who is not seeking re-election this year, is endorsing Little.
Most recently, Little also received the endorsement of the Idaho Realtors. The group says it supports Little's plan to create first-time homebuyer savings accounts that would allow individuals to funnel enough pre-tax income to help pay for a down payment.
Ahlquist has been critical of Otter's executive order to lower the cost of health care plans, calling it a stunt to have Little also sign the order.
"I don't think they worked with insurance companies the way they should have. They drug the insurance companies into the exchange, and without even working with them, they had this new order go out," Ahlquist said. "I wouldn't have done the way they did it, but I think it's part of the solution."
Ahlquist, a former emergency room doctor turned developer, is running for political office for the first time. The candidate has campaigned on being a political outsider, and recently announced he raised the most campaign cash in a year in Idaho's history.
Ahlquist's campaign also has been critical of Little and Otter traveling together this close to the May primary.
"The lieutenant governor should reimburse Idaho taxpayers for campaigning across the state on the taxpayer dime, pushing what is nothing more than a campaign stunt," Johnston said in a statement. "This type of abuse of taxpayer dollars by a career politician must come to an end."
The Democratic gubernatorial candidate raised eyebrows this week when she repeatedly sided with some of the Idaho Legislature's most conservative Republican lawmakers on several hot-button issues.
First, she voted with Republicans to introduce legislation that would extend protections for a person who uses deadly force under a serious threat of harm. Jordan later told The Associated Press she has concerns with the bill but voted to introduce it anyway at the request of her constituents and thought the proposal warranted a full hearing.
The same day, Jordan was once again the only Democrat to vote with nine far-right lawmakers who stalled the House to buck legislative leadership and force a full hearing for a bill on lobbying reform.
The Democratic Boise businessman filed a campaign finance disclosure report showing he contributed $175,000 of the roughly $181,000 raised so far in his second bid for governor.
While he filed to run for the seat in November, Balukoff officially launched his campaign in January and has been traveling across the state to meet with voters.