Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GOP views Blaine as big prize

Lincoln Days draws Republican heavyweights to Hailey


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, left, talks to valley resident Robert Blakeley in Hailey on Saturday. Photo by David N. Seelig

Idaho's top Republican office holders and candidates vowed that they would soon win Blaine County when they spoke at the Hailey Grange Hall on Saturday during the party's annual Lincoln Days event.

The event, attended by about 100 people, was sponsored by the Blaine County Republicans and provided an occasion for campaign speeches, a hot dog lunch and a live auction.

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said he plans to turn Blaine County from one that votes predominantly for Democratic candidates to one that votes Republican.

"Just like we did in Bannock County," he said.

Simpson said that President Barack Obama's health care bill would not be defeated until a "final stake is driven through its heart."

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Sen. Mike Crapo also attended, along with self-described "maverick" gubernatorial contender Rex Rammel, who called for the "annihilation" of wolves in Idaho.

Otter said the Idaho Republican Party celebrates Lincoln Days in part to honor Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.

"He was our first Republican president," Otter said. "Like Lincoln, we have a love of liberty, personal responsibility and limited government."

Asked in an interview what the significance of Lincoln is to current Republican political philosophy, Otter offered a quote that he attributed to Lincoln.

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"You can't make the poor rich by making the rich poor, and you can't make the idle productive by making the productive idle," he said.

(Though the above quote has been widely attributed to Lincoln, some respected sources state that he never said it.)

Otter also said human rights advocacy is not solely the purview of liberals.

"The liberals want equal rights enforced by government. Republicans want equal rights enforced by competition," Otter said.

Lt. Gov. Little said the size of the federal government has grown by 22 percent in the past year, due to unwise choices made by the Obama administration.

"The Republicans in Idaho will work as a team to be responsible with your money," Little said.

Alex Sutter, Shoshone resident and challenger for Rep. Donna Pence's District 25 legislative seat, said he would promote three priorities if elected: "They are your families, your fortune and your freedom," he said.

Sutter, who served on the Richfield school board, said that after experiencing firsthand the effects of state and federal controls on education spending, he supports allowing local jurisdictions to spend education dollars as they please.

"We had to spend on building maintenance when we needed to buy books," he said in an interview.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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