Idaho First Congressional District Election Update
Well, it's getting into the election season, so you can expect more political posting here at TSSBP. I'm not a big fan of bloggers spending a lot of time discussing races in which they can't vote, so I'll be sticking mostly to the Congressional race here in Idaho's 1st District.
I went to a "Meet and Greet" for Rep. Raul Labrador last night, intent on asking him if he was a "Birther" -- he seems to be running to the right side of his main opponent, Vaughn Ward, in the race for the Republican nomination for Idaho's 1st Congressional District. Since recent polls show that up to 71% of people who "strongly identify" with the Tea Party Movement seem to be Birthers, I wondered if the candidate would pander to the more extreme end of the electorate. His campaign had picked up that I would be there, so he was ready for me; when he realized who I was when we were talking before the formal portion of the event, he asked me, "Why would you think that I would be a Birther?" I told him about the poll, and he responded with a completely common sense answer -- he figured that if there was anything to the allegation that President Obama wasn't a natural-born citizen, then Sen. McCain's campaign would have figured that out, I responded "Or Sen. Clinton's campaign", and he agreed. Thus, I'm happy to report that Rep. Labrador is not -- in any way, shape, or form -- a Birther.
There were about 25 people there for the event, including three State Representatives (in addition to Rep. Labrador). I was impressed by his talk, and especially how he handled himself during the question and answer session. I gave him another "trap" question, asking if, since the Idaho Republican Platform calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve and "returning" to a Gold and Silver standard for money, he would support such legislation in Congress. He punted, but in an interesting way. Rather than putting out a bunch of meaningless platitudes, he said he needed to research the issue more. When my sons asked him about the war, he said he supported President Obama's surge in Afghanistan, and that in Iraq we should stabilize the government and then withdraw U.S. forces. When pressed for more detail, he was once again honest. He said he didn't know a lot about military strategy, and would have to study it more; later, he privately told me that he would likely defer to the military experts. I found that quite refreshing.
When asked what he thought he could do as a freshman Congressman, he seemed very realistic. He figured that the Republicans would put him, an Puerto Rico-born immigration lawyer, out in the forefront of the immigration debate. He called for an effective "Guest Worker" program, which I figure won't endear him to the more rightward elements of the party, but showed that he's his own man on the issue. (He also expressed an interest in putting the National Guard on the border.) On the deficit, he called for a balanced budget (which I liked), but the one number he used didn't quite pass the smell test. He said that if we just returned to 2007 budget outlays we'd have a $169 billion budget surplus. Since federal expenditures were $2.78 trillion in 2007, and projected revenues in 2011 are only $2.57 trillion, I'm not sure how his math works out.
[The Labrador campaign "revised and extended" his remarks on the budget as follows: "As Raul has been studying the problems within the budget that have brought us to this point, it obvious that government spending must be cut... One idea that caught Raul's attention was proposed by Sen. George LeMieux from Florida. In this article, you can find the numbers Raul cited last night. As we have been researching this solution in greater detail, we too discovered that the numbers Sen. LeMieux cited do not seem to correspond with recently released revenue projections. That being said, the principle behind the plan remains sound: rolling the budget back to levels from several years ago would be a balanced short-term approach to resolving the budget crisis. Deep cuts into any one agency would not be necessary as the load would be distributed upon all areas of the federal government. It is also important to note that an approach like this does not call for a return to 1986 or 1966 spending levels to balance the budget, which would not only be undoubtedly painful but would also be difficult to implement. Reverting back to spending limits seen in the years between 2004-2007 is a sensible way to ensure that government effectively serves the people in the here and now while also restoring its soundness in the future."]
Overall, I liked Rep. Labrador, and if he does happen to win the Republican nomination and the subsequent general election against Walt Minnick, I don't think I'd be embarrassed by my Congressman like I was from 2007-2008. There won't be a "Raul Labrador Fan" this year.
I haven't really checked out Vaughn Ward yet, but he seems to be a boilerplate conservative with establishment backing. It looks like any humor and absurdity in this race will have to be provided by new candidate Michael Chadwick; based on his "Policy Statements", he appears to be an extreme Paulite and the most likely heir to our district's Salian tradition of foot-in-mouth idiocy. (Of course, there's still time for Bill Sali himself to get back in the race; I can only hope. Sali winning the nomination would pretty much ensure Walt Minnick's re-election.)