Four of the five Idaho candidates for the U.S. Senate will appear together tonight for a debate at the College of Idaho in Caldwell. The event is set for 7 to 8 p.m. in Jewett Auditorium. We'll have the live feed on here at Red State Rebels at 7 Mountain/6 Pacific, but Treasure Valley residents may want to check out this one in person, especially since it features not just Democrat Larry LaRocco and Independent Rex Rammell, but Libertarian candidate Kent Marmon, and the single issue candidate “Pro-Life” (formerly known as Marvin Richardson). Political economy professor Jasper LiCalzi will moderate.
Of course, Republican Jim Risch will be a no-show, as usual ... just in case anyone had any doubt.
Meanwhile, Larry yesterday announced his economic plan, "America's Path to Recovery and Prosperity." Speaking with reporters in Boise yesterday, he said, "My prescription for the economy is one-two-three: first solve the immediate crisis on Wall Street, then tackle energy independence and health insurance. If we get to work and put partisan politics aside, we should be able to accomplish these things in the first 100 days of the next Congress."
As the intro to his plan (available online) says, LaRocco "has more than 30 years experience in the financial services industry, including four years on the House Banking Committee. Larry LaRocco is uniquely qualified to understand the current crisis on Wall Street and to formulate effective solutions."
Idaho Democratic Party executive director Jim Hansen reminds us all at the state party website that the state Republican Party is on record as wanting to abolish the Federal Reserve. A snip: There are few people alive who remember the 1929 stock market crash and the devastating depression that followed. If Idaho Republicans got their way, a crash of similar or greater impact would have happened this month.
It is clear that years of irresponsible lending fueled by Republican economic deregulation policies has accelerated into a dizzying series of near-disasters in the global economy. To put on the brakes and prevent the economy from completely derailing, our government must turn to a tool that Franklin D. Roosevelt created during the Depression: The Federal Reserve.
Read it all here. Jim raises an interesting question: Do Bill Sali, Jim Risch, Mike Simpson, Mike Crapo, Larry Craig, Butch Otter, and other Idaho Republicans actually stand behind this plank in the state GOP platform? Also, isn't it interesting how 1st CD candidate Bill Sali lashed out against the financial market bailout package before he knew anything about it - and now he's having to promise he'll keep an open mind? In complex times like this, we need leaders who think before they talk.
Update 9/24/08: Check out what Kos pointed out Tuesday afternoon (h/t Jill) ... this passage from the Republican Party Platform adopted mere weeks ago:
We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself.
I can only imagine the moral confusion that free-market zealots are experiencing this week, as they realize that their black-and-white positions don't work in the modern world.
How often does someone from Idaho win an Olympic gold medal? How often do Idaho universities land a $15 million research grant - our state's largest ever - from the National Science Foundation? You'd think such things would be worth a personal high-five from the governor, right? But Butch Otter has repeatedly ceded the spotlight in such recent high-profile media events to Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
As you can see from this media advisory (still posted on the governor's website as of this afternoon and preserved here for posterity; click it to enlarge), Otter was scheduled to attend a press conference last Friday to announce the NSF grant, but he backed out and let Risch do it. And last month when the city of Boise welcomed champion cyclist Kristin Armstrong home from Beijing, it was Risch - not Otter - who joined her on the podium on the state's behalf.
Now everyone knows that lieutenant governor is a largely ceremonial role, and Risch clearly needs something to do, especially since he's passing up most opportunities to debate his opponents. But it seems odd that Otter is consistently having Risch enjoy the best photo ops. It's especially ironic that Risch was asked to hail a grant to study the effects of climate change on the Snake and Salmon River watersheds.
Climate change?! Why, just two years ago when serving as our temporary governor, Risch told the Los Angeles Times he remained unconvinced that global warming is caused by humans. Less than two months before the election, he still hasn't posted anything on his website about where he stands on energy, never mind anything like the detailed plan Larry LaRocco presented on the issue back in spring 2007.
Update: Energy isn't the only issue on which Risch seems to have no position. Check out this side-by-side comparison from the LaRocco campaign on Risch's shocking lack of substance. As of today, Risch has approximately 300 words' worth of policy on his website. LaRocco has more than 2,000 words on energy alone, plus lengthy statements on health care, immigration, veterans, and the war in Iraq.
We had the live feed here earlier this evening. Click here for the recorded version, although it seems the first 15 minutes or so are missing. I'll replace it with a better link if the campaign provides it.
U.S. Senate candidates Larry LaRocco, a Democrat, and independent Rex Rammell will hold their second live debate tonight (Wednesday, September 10). This one is in Sandpoint, and North Idahoans who want to catch it in person can do so from 5 to 6 p.m. Pacific Time in the Sandpoint Center Community Room, 414 Church St. The rest of us can catch it live on the 'net. We'll have the feed here at Red State Rebels at 6 p.m. Mountain/5 p.m. Pacific, or you can view it at the LaRocco for Senate website (where you can also submit a question in advance). Republican candidate Jim Risch has been invited to take part, but he did not respond.
There is a story on Page 1 of today's Idaho Statesman print edition about the Center Aisle Coalition, a group of people in the House of Representatives who are dedicated to breaking gridlock on issues on which there's broad agreement. It's a great idea. However, the real choke point in Congress is the closely divided U.S. Senate, where Democrats hold a thin 51-49 majority (and that's including independents Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman). By the end of its current term, the 110th Congress is on track to having nearly triple the usual number of cloture votes as any previous Congress, as Republicans have repeatedly blocked passage of legislation ranging from ethics reform to renewable energy. (This chart is out-of-date, but it shows how Senate Republicans have obstructed progress in Congress since the current term began.)
Overall, Americans hold progressive values on accessible health care, creating a new energy economy, responsible foreign policy, preserving Social Security, strengthening public schools, and returning to a tax policy that helps middle class families who are struggling to get by. The only way to achieve these values is to elect Barack Obama and give Democrats a bigger majority in both Houses of Congress, but especially in the Senate. A filibuster-proof majority of 60 seats ought to be voters' goal. Here in Idaho, electing Larry LaRocco will help achieve that, with the added bonus of LaRocco gaining seniority for the two terms he's already served in the House. A vote for Jim Risch is a vote for more gridlock.
UPDATE Friday afternoon: LaRocco talked about the GOP's ballot machinations during a short interview with the Spokesman-Review's Huckleberries Online just now. Read it here.
Jim Risch and the Idaho Republican Party are apparently losing sleep over the idea that the lieutenant gov has to compete not just with surging Democrat Larry LaRocco but with three other conservatives in his drive to win Larry Craig's U.S. Senate seat. First, the GOP power elites tried to get independent Rex Rammell tossed off the ballot, a request that the Idaho Supreme Court denied on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, KTVB reported that U.S. Rep. Bill Sali has called Rammell, Libertarian candidate Kent Marmon, and independent Pro-Life (yes, that's his name), asking them to drop out lest they throw the election to LaRocco. All three underdogs refused, and LaRocco told KTVB that the GOP efforts to winnow the field show disrespect for the voters. LaRocco served two terms in the U.S. House in the 1990s, and he offers that seniority and his place in the Democratic Party to improve Idaho's lowly status in Congress.
U.S. Senate candidates Larry LaRocco, a Democrat, and Rex Rammell, an independent, will meet in the first of 10 planned debates tonight (Monday, August 18). The live event is at 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time in the Riverstone Room at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 1500 Riverstone Drive in Coeur d'Alene, but people statewide can catch the event live on LaRocco's website starting at 7:30 p.m. Mountain/6:30 Pacific. Questions for the debaters are also being taken in advance of the event here.
This is an interesting gambit for LaRocco, whose poll numbers are rising, and for Rammell, who is one of the stronger third-party candidates Idaho has seen. There will be sharp differences between them on most issues, and both are likely to win more support from independents and undecided voters than will Jim Risch, who will dodge these debates (and the Idaho Public TV-Idaho Press Club-League of Women Voters event this fall). If LaRocco and Rammell can keep Risch's support well under 50 percent, LaRocco will have a chance to prevail in the election on November 4.
Update 5:50 p.m. We'll have the live stream and chat capability here at RSR as well.
Update Tuesday morning: The recorded video of the debate is available here.