Idaho's primary election races next Tuesday look more like coronations instead of contests for political office.
Idaho voters have had few opportunities to experience any political combat that could attract their votes.
That leaves voters with few tools to separate qualified candidates from the crackpots and ideological zealots that populate some political seasons.
The best candidate information around is located in two places. First, the candidates' own Web sites are listed on the Idaho secretary of state's Web site. Second, the Idaho Statesman's 2008 Voter Guide on the Web is a good resource.
After examining it all, the Express settled on the following endorsements:
For Idaho Supreme Court Justice, John Bradbury: Voters who are sick of the "can't say anything because I'm running for the judiciary" candidates will be pleased with this five-year district judge from North Idaho. Bradbury wants the court to use its administrative power to create accessible night courts, drug courts and mental-health courts. This is sensible and he is well qualified.
For U.S. Senator, Jim Risch: Despite eight other candidates in this race, this should be a coronation. No other candidate has the experience of this 11-term state senator, interim governor and current lieutenant governor. He holds classic Republican positions—states rights, gun rights, low taxes—yet is pragmatic when it comes to public lands, immigration, global warming and the economy. For example, he opposed the recent federal tax rebates.
For 2nd District Representative, Mike Simpson: This five-term incumbent congressman stands head and shoulders above two opponents in experience and command of the issues. Simpson isn't an ideologue. He recently opposed the Republican economic stimulus package and favored expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which was opposed by President Bush. He also has supported creating more wilderness in Idaho.
For U.S. Senator, Larry LaRocco: Democrats need look no further than to this former two-term congressman who has the name recognition to carry their banner. A former U.S. Army officer, LaRocco is calling for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq within a year. He's also looking to end dependence on foreign oil, supports gun rights and opposes tax rebates as economic stimuli.
For 2nd District Representative, Deborah Holmes: This is an anemic race with sometimes indistinguishable platforms between Deborah Holmes and David Sneddon, both of Boise. Both have professional backgrounds in real estate. Our nod goes to Holmes' wanting to restore oversight of financial industries and to overhaul the healthcare system.