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45 Days to Election Day: Idaho

There is no Senate or gubernatorial race in Idaho this year. One can safely count this state in the Romney column as he will pick up their 4 electoral votes easily.

In the 1st District Congressional race, Raul Labrador is up for reelection to his second term for the Republican Party this year. He will face former NFL wide receiver Jimmy Farris on the Democratic side. Believing he was their best choice, he actually had a difficult time winning his primary match-up against Cynthia Clinkingbeard by 600 votes. She had to suspend her campaign after brandishing a gun at a Staples store over a dispute of some kind. If Farris has trouble beating a whack job, it is hard to see how he can beat Labrador. Labrador is considered a centrist Republican and has appeared nationally for the GOP in the press.

Second District incumbent Republican Mike Simpson, first elected in 1998, will take on Nicole LaFavour. Simpson is to the right of Labrador ideologically and is considered a rank-and-file Republican. LaFavour was first elected to the Idaho state senate in 2008. A look at her legislative profile shows that she may be out of the Idaho mainstream with considerably low ratings from the usual conservative groups and high ratings from the usual liberal groups. For example, she is a believer in man-made global warming and is pro-choice. She has received a D- rating from the NRA. This race will not even be close as Simpson will easily win reelection. One caveat: although Simpson is better funded by a large margin, more than half of his coffers are attributable to PAC donations while the bulk of his personal donations are from large donors. LaFavour has actually out-raised Simpson among small donors. Sometimes, that is an indication of the direction of a election, but not in conservative Idaho.

Among the three questions before Idaho voters this year will be a hunting and fishing rights amendment to the state constitution. Last year, Kentucky passed a similar measure and besides Idaho, similar questions will be on the ballots in two other states this year. These constitutional protections are being pushed by the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action in response to actions by some animal rights activists in other states, notably PETA, who have complained about the “cruelty” of certain hunting practices. The sponsors note that although there are no active efforts in Idaho at this time, a constitutional guarantee would thwart future efforts by animal rights groups to force bans on these practices through the courts. Instead, they would have to lobby either the legislature or the Fish and Wildlife management bureaucracy in the state to ban practices they object to as “cruel.”

The state prison and control amendment would allow the state Board of Corrections complete control over the adult felony parole and probation process. In essence, this would lessen the bureaucracy among often competing state agencies.

The final question is actually three different questions addressing educational reforms signed into effect in 2011. Like what has been happening elsewhere in the country, notably Wisconsin, the law in effect would remove tenure and certain other issues like teacher workload and class size from collective bargaining and leave it to school administration. The second law involved teacher merit pay while the third would require all high school students to take two on-line courses in order to graduate. They would be provided with laptops or tablets. In order to pay for them, money would be diverted from teacher and administration pay. These referendum ask the voters to veto these laws. Of course, the teacher unions are behind them. The first two seem like reasonable reforms, but the third is problematic.

While no one should have any problem with enhancing the technological skills of high school students in preparation for adulthood, diverting money from teachers may not be the best method to achieve these goals. The teacher union argues that this program will force the elimination of as much as 25% of all teachers in Idaho, which sounds a little high. Still, replacing teachers through technology is certainly innovative, but one has to question whether a better means of funding the purchase of the technology is available.

In conclusion: Romney will take Idaho’s 4 electoral votes and both Republican incumbents will be returned to the House.

Running totals to date: Obama leads Romney 23-13 in electoral votes while Democrats have the Senate 7-5. In the House, membership is evenly split 12-12.

Next: Wyoming

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