The governor of Idaho refuses the debates before the Republican primary | Government and politics

By KEITH RIDLER – Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. Brad Little said Friday he would not take part in the proceedings until next month’s Republican primary.

The first-term governor had been invited to participate in debates hosted by Idaho Debates on Idaho Public Television and another hosted by KTVB-TV.

“Governor Little has a track record of cutting red tape, managing the budget and economy responsibly, and providing Idaho families and businesses with historic tax relief and record investments. in schools, roads, water and other areas,” his campaign said in a statement. “These achievements and historical facts are not debatable.”

Little attracted several Republican challengers, including far-right Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin. The Governor and the Lieutenant Governor have separate tickets. Little has a significant fundraising advantage, and debating McGeachin in a statewide televised debate could give him a big platform with little to gain for himself.

The two clashed during the coronavirus pandemic, with McGeachin as acting governor issuing several executive orders while Little was out of town. Little overruled McGeachin’s orders each time.

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McGeachin, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, tweeted that Little’s decision was not based on “a scheduling conflict, but he just doesn’t want to argue.” Once again, he shows his elitist attitude by refusing to address his case.

After Little’s announcement, Idaho debate officials said it was unclear whether the governor’s debate would be held without Little, and they were talking to other candidates. They said it was the first time in more than three decades that a sitting governor seeking re-election had refused to participate.

Also Friday, Republican State Rep. Priscilla Giddings withdrew from a lieutenant governor debate against House Speaker Scott Bedke that had been set for Monday.

Idaho debate officials said Giddings has already engaged in the debate, as has Bedke. Giddings, however, demanded his prior approval of the journalist panelists, citing his concerns about their bias. But Idaho debates officials said they don’t reveal reporters on a panel to a candidate in advance.

“The decision to withhold panelists’ names under the false pretense that it will suddenly make them fair and respectful leaves us with very little choice,” Giddings campaign spokesman Zach Lautenschlager said in an email to Melissa. Davlin of Idaho Public Television, the scheduled program. debate moderator. “We are obliged to decline the invitation.”

Bedke said in a statement that he was happy to participate in Monday’s debate and also agreed to a debate on KTVB-TV without preconditions.

“It is unfortunate that the people of Idaho will not have this opportunity to see, firsthand, the difference between my conservative track record and the empty rhetoric of my opponent,” Bedke wrote.

The Idaho Debates is a collaboration between the Idaho Press Club, Idaho Public Television, the League of Women Voters of Idaho, and Idaho Public Universities.

Refusing to participate in statewide televised debates before the Idaho primary gives voters fewer opportunities to scrutinize candidates and potentially see different philosophies on display.

“Idaho Public Television reaches nearly every household in the state, and we know from past commentary that many Republican primary voters rely on the debates to inform their decisions at the ballot box,” Davlin said.

The gubernatorial and lieutenant governor races offer tough choices for voters, with Little and Bedke among the more traditional Republicans who have dominated Idaho for several decades, and McGeachin and Giddings associated with the far-right who have made breakthroughs in recent years.

In conservative Idaho, the winner of the Republican primary in statewide races is almost guaranteed to win the general election. Democrats have not held the governorship since 1995 or elected statewide office since 2007.

Republican U.S. Representative Mike Simpson has also said he will not participate in the Republican primary debates this year.

Simpson, who is usually but not always aligned with Little and Bedke, has attracted a handful of major challengers for Idaho’s 2nd congressional district which he has represented since 1999.

The most notable challenger is Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls. Smith ran against Simson in the 2014 Republican primary but lost. Simpson’s campaign said voters had seen enough of Smith already.

Republican U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher, who has represented Idaho’s 1st congressional district since 2019, did not attract a primary challenger.

Several other Republican primary debates hosted by Idaho Debates are still scheduled. These include candidates for Attorney General on Tuesday, Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 25 and Secretary of State on April 26.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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