Issue of: May 20, 1998  


Politicians and goldfish

Pity the poor voter. The primary election is Tuesday, and the average voter has little to go on. For voters, this election year is like peering into the political crystal ball only to find that it’s really a fish bowl, complete with a bug-eyed goldfish that stares back silently.

It’s not the voter’s fault. Candidates are not helping. Many platforms are based on the plea, "Vote for me because (fill in the blank): A. I’m a good person, B. I’ve lived in Idaho longer than my opponents, C. I hate government. D. Elect me, pay me and I promise I will learn the issues.

The candidates are the same people who will decry low turnouts and voter apathy the day after the election. Yeah, right. Like they gave voters something to go on.

We sorted through the bios, looked at flyers, read interviews, watched appearances and debates to come up with endorsements. It’s been frustrating. In some cases, there is nothing that distinguishes one candidate from another. Yet, for better or worse, here are our takes on what voters will face in the ballot booth.


Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court: Despite the fact that voters get to choose a judge for the first time in 30 years, none of the candidates will say what they think about anything. They claim that saying something now could disqualify them from deciding issues if they come before them in court. So, voters know nothing about what the candidates think. They are left to ponder pedigrees or tea leaves, if they prefer. Lowell Castleton is a magistrate judge from Preston. Wayne Kidwell is a former Idaho attorney general and was with the U.S. Justice Department under Reagan. Mike Wetherell is a private attorney and a Boise City Councilman.

Put all three of their photos on a dart board and start throwing. Two darts out of three on one picture, give ‘em the vote.

Republican Party

U.S. Senator: Second District: Congressman Mike Crapo wants to move up. He’s the candidate with the name recognition and a big war chest. He’ll win the nomination over his unknown opponent. This is politics in 1998.

U.S. Representative, Second District: The four candidates in this race should form an Idaho chapter of the Flat Earth Society. All are radical right-wing evangelists. They battled over who is most in favor of a flat tax and who is most against abortion. Pick your poison. Our favorite hemlock? Former Idaho Speaker of the House Mike Simpson.

State Controller: Who’s the best bean counter? Can either Ron Pollock or Harold Orien balance a checkbook? How would they vote as a member of the state land board when faced with high market values and low lease rates. We haven’t a clue. Flip a coin.

State Treasurer: The issue is money and where to invest it until the Legislature spends it. Only one candidate, Barbara Bauer, has guarded the money bags for a public agency. She’s the Ada County Treasurer--the best bet.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: The Flat Earth Society ought to do some recruiting here, too. Incumbent Anne C. Fox has not been a strong nor effective advocate for education. She feuded with the state board of education and got nowhere with the Legislature. She short-changed kids by refusing to seek and accept some federal education grants because they were federal funds. This office needs someone with a grip. Cassia County schools superintendent Tom Morley is the most level headed of the pack.

Democratic Party

Governor: The wild public television debate proved former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley is the only candidate in the race with a firm grip on reality. He’s also the only candidate who has studied all the issues and taken positions.

Lt. Governor: Former legislator Sue Reents is a clear-eyed liberal contender who’s been present and accounted for. Opponent, Cheri Erwin, walked out on the public television debate because of some perceived media conspiracy denying her coverage. Enough already on the tantrums.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: We wish Marilyn Howard had been our first-grade teacher, but Wally Hedrick has been around the block in both politics and education. Hedrick knows where the skeletons are in the Legislature, and will use them to improve education funding.

For Blaine County Assessor: The assessor’s job isn’t easy in a non-disclosure state. It’s no job for jellyfish, yet the single encounter among three candidates in this race was a mush match. A professional appraisal background and professional attitude set Valdi Pace apart.


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