Head to the Idaho Reports blog

Hey folks — I don’t update this anymore. Check out the Idaho Reports blog for my political reporting, as well as posts from my lovely colleagues.


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The barriers to breastfeeding

Emilie Ritter Saunders of Boise State Public Radio had a great piece today that explored reasons why Idaho is number one in breastfeeding rates.


As a new mom who is nursing, I’ve taken a crash course in the last three weeks on how difficult (and painful, and inconvenient, and time-consuming) breastfeeding can be. Any barrier threatens to derail well-intentioned plans to nurse.

And there is a major barrier to breastfeeding that is unique to Idaho. Idaho is one of two states that doesn’t legally protect mothers who breastfeed in public and/or exempt  breastfeeding from public indecency laws. (West Virginia is the other.) If I were to nurse my baby at a store or restaurant in Boise, and if an employee asked me to leave or nurse in the bathroom, I’d have no legal backing to say no, regardless of how well my baby and I were covered up with a blanket. (Idaho does have one breastfeeding law on the books — nursing moms can get out of jury duty.)

As keen as Idaho is on the rights of business owners, I don’t imagine that will change any time soon. Just know that if I’m nursing my son in public, I’m not trying to make a political statement, and you probably won’t find me at any latch-on events like the one Saunders wrote about. I only need to feed my kid.

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An interesting immigration memo from DC

The Washington Post obtained a memo being circulated  among DC immigration reform activists on potential maybe votes among House Republicans for the Senate immigration bill. Raul Labrador’s name is on the list, which describes him as a “rising star” who is “committed to immigration reform even after leaving the bipartisan House ‘Gang of 8.'” Mike Simpson is also listed.

Keep this in mind: While Labrador is passionate about immigration reform, he’s made it abundantly clear he isn’t a fan of the Senate bill. Also, as the Post notes, these are Republicans who are open to immigration reform, and not necessarily this proposal. Simpson has indicated he’s more inclined to talk about this bill, if only to kick-start more dialogue. 

Either way, this memo is interesting. It breaks down each of the targets’ districts by Latino population, and notes past votes that might make each lawmaker more open minded about this bill. It’s worth a browse. 

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On a personal note: A baby update. (Nothing to see here)

It’s been quiet on the blog lately. I’ve had a few things going on. I’ve had lots of people send me notes and e-mails about the baby, so here’s an update.

For the last week, I’ve been in pre-labor, or prodromal labor, off and on.  Contractions start, I’m intensely uncomfortable for several hours, and then they fade away again. (I did not know this was a thing before last week. If they told women all the awful things that happen with pregnancy, I’m convinced the birth rate would drop by half.) It’s not enough to admit me to the hospital or evict this kid, but it is enough to keep me up all night, making me very unhappy with life, the world and humanity. 

Soon, they tell me, it will progress to active labor. Until then, I’m hanging out at home, wrapping up my last freelance assignments. If you want to send me good-baby vibes or thoughts or prayers or whatever you’ve got, I’ll take ’em. 

The baby should be here within the next two weeks. In the meantime, you can get your Idaho politics fix from the usual suspects. I see Popkey returned from his trip to Italy! Welcome home, sir.  

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How the upcoming SCOTUS decision on Prop 8 could affect Idaho

Check out this New York Times graphic on possible outcomes for two U.S. Supreme Court cases on same sex marriage.

The first case, on California’s Proposition 8, could potentially affect Idaho, whose voters passed a same sex marriage ban in 2006. There are many ways the court could rule on this one, but if it strikes down Prop 8 on the grounds that all same sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, Idaho’s ban (in the form of a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman in the state’s constitution) could be in trouble, according to this graphic.

The graphic provides no analysis on how likely that outcome is.

Remember, there are two rulings on same sex marriage that are coming down the pike this week: The one on California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v Perry), and the one on the federal benefits for same sex partners (Windsor v United States). The only one with implications for Idaho is Hollingsworth v Perry.

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Bryan Smith and Nate Curtis are not the same person

A strange side-note on the Bryan Smith for Congress campaign launch: One of the pieces of campaign literature I’ve seen for Smith says his website is BryanSmithforCongress.com.

But when I typed that address into my browser, it automatically redirected me to NateCurtisForMayor.com. Curtis is running for mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, according to his website. I tried it four times, with the same result.

So that’s weird.

When I asked Rod Beck about it, he said the website may not yet be live. Anyway, if you tried to find Smith’s page and found yourself reading about urban blight in Pennsylvania, know that you’re not crazy.

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Bryan Smith to announce candidacy for CD2

Congressman Mike Simpson has a challenger for 2014.

Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith will announce his candidacy for congressional district 2 on Thursday, according to a public Facebook event page created by Rod Beck. Over the next week, he’s stopping by Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls and Pocatello.

Here’s the link to the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/515984561789475/.

Smith is already listed as a Simpson opponent on The Green Papers. The Green Papers lists Smith as a Republican, though the event site doesn’t specify, and Smith’s own Facebook page lists him as a constitutional conservative. According to The Green Papers, Congressman Raul Labrador doesn’t yet have any challengers.

But we have nearly eleven months until the primary, and more than a year until the general election. We’ll see how long it takes for someone else to throw their hat in the ring.

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A serious question about wearing tutus to work


Sorry for the lack of posts. I’ve been super busy and super sick. Why didn’t any of you tell me that being nine months pregnant is miserable? Oh, wait. Everyone told me that. I just didn’t listen.

As you likely know, the GOP met in McCall and shot down a rule that would have forced Republican candidates to get party leaders’ blessings before running in the primary.

Now folks are talking about a non-binding resolution that encourages the Idaho Legislature to override local anti-discrimination ordinances for LGBT folks. One remark in particular caught the attention of Jillian Rayfield at Salon:  

“Cornel Rasor, a former Bonner County commissioner and chairman of the Idaho GOP’s resolutions committee, said, “I’d hire a gay guy if I thought he was a good worker. But if he comes into work in a tutu … he’s not producing what I want in my office.” (Read Betsy Russell’s full story at the Spokesman-Review.)

OK. Here’s my serious question: If you were a business owner and an employee blatantly violated your office’s dress code by showing up in a tutu, couldn’t you fire them no matter what? Cuz that’s no longer about sexual orientation. If a heterosexual guy showed up to work dressed like that, his boss would probably show his tutu’ed butt out the door. Right? Or am I missing something?

I have a follow-up: Does anyone know of an instance where someone, male or female, straight or gay or otherwise, has actually worn a tutu to work? Actors and dancers don’t count. Please provide pictures.

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Otter, other Republicans send letters against proposed rule

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has already voiced opposition to the proposed rule change that would require party leaders’ endorsement to run in the Republican primaries, but yesterday, he sent a letter to Idaho Republicans condemning it in the strongest possible terms.

“To govern effectively and wisely, our calculus for public policy must take into account not only the most fervently ideological among us, but also those with whom we earnestly disagree,” he writes.

Republicans also received a letter signed by dozens of Republican elected officials, including Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and House Speaker Scott Bedke, encouraging them to reject the rule. 

“Idaho’s Republican Party should be open to all Republicans, not just those with the keys to the “smoke-filled room.”  All registered Republicans should have a voice in selecting our candidates,” the letter says. “Idaho Republicans enjoy huge majorities in registration, at the polls, and in elective office.  Our party has worked hard to earn the trust of all Republicans and voters in Idaho.  We should not take that trust for granted by alienating those who continue to give us these majorities.”

See the text of the letters below. 

 Letter one:

June 13, 2013
Dear Members of the Idaho Republican Central Committee:
We are writing to alert you to a proposed change in the Idaho Republican Party Rules which we believe will be very harmful to the Republican Party in Idaho.  (The text of the proposed rule change, 2013-P08, is reprinted below.)
This proposed rule change would place the power to select Republican Candidates entirely within the State Party Central Committee for State and Federal Candidates; the Legislative District Committees for all legislative candidates; and the County Central Committees for all county candidates.
This proposal, while it allows for more than one “endorsement” in any given race, will likely eliminate Republican primary elections in Idaho and disenfranchise the overwhelming majority of Idaho Republicans.  As an example, in the 2012 Twin Falls County Republican Primary 7,140 Republicans cast ballots—an impressive 63% of the registered Republicans in Twin Falls County.  If the proposed rule had been in effect in 2012, Republican nominations would have been decided by the 45 members of the Twin Falls County Republican Central Committee—a mere .39% of registered Twin Falls Republicans.
Before 2012 Idaho Republicans had a legitimate concern that non-Republicans were voting in our primaries and selecting our candidates.  With the primary now open only to registered Republicans that concern no longer exists.  As you know, current party rules allow Central Committees to endorse candidates in primaries.  What then, is the rationale for disenfranchising actual registered Republicans by giving a handful of insiders a veto over which candidates are allowed to run as Republicans?
How can we justify to members of our party and to Idaho citizens that we have eliminated the vast majority of Republicans from the candidate selection process?  The problem is even more obvious when there is an uncontested general election—our elected officials could become selected officials.
Idaho’s Republican Party should be open to all Republicans, not just those with the keys to the “smoke-filled room.”  All registered Republicans should have a voice in selecting our candidates.   Idaho Republicans enjoy huge majorities in registration, at the polls, and in elective office.  Our party has worked hard to earn the trust of all Republicans and voters in Idaho.  We should not take that trust for granted by alienating those who continue to give us these majorities.
Please help us defeat this restrictive proposal at the upcoming Central Committee Meeting in McCall.


Butch Otter, Governor
Brad Little, Lt. Governor
Tom Luna, Superintendent of Schools
Brandon Woolf, State Controller
Ron Crane, State Treasurer
Ben Ysursa, Secretary of State
Lawrence Wasden, Attorney General
Scott Bedke, Speaker of the House
Brent Hill, Idaho Senate President Pro
Shawn Keough, Sen. Dist. 1
Eric Anderson, Rep. Dist.1A
George Eskridge, Rep. Dist. 1B
Luke Malek, Rep. Dist. 4A
Jim Rice, Sen. Dist. 10
Darrell Bolz, Rep. Dist. 10B
Christy Perry, Rep Dist. 11B
Patti Ann Lodge, Sen Dist 11
Todd Lakey, Sen. Dist 12
Robert Anderst, Rep. Dist. 12A
Rick Youngblood, Rep. Dist. 12B
Bert Brackett, Sen. Dist. 23
Lee Heider, Sen. Dist. 24
Lance Clow, Rep. Dist. 24A
Stephen Hartgen, Rep. Dist. 24B
Jim Patrick, Sen. Dist. 25
Maxine Bell, Rep. Dist. 25A
Clark Kauffman, Rep. Dist. 25B
Dean Cameron, Sen. Dist. 27
Fred Wood, Rep. Dist. 27B
Jim Guthrie, Sen. Dist. 28
Kelley Packer, Rep. Dist. 28B
Wendy Horman, Rep. Dist. 30B
Steve Bair, Sen. Dist. 31
Julie VanOrden, Rep. Dist. 31B
Neil Anderson, Rep. 31A
Marc Gibbs, Rep. Dist. 32A
Bart Davis, Sen. Dist. 33
Janet Trujillo, Rep. Dist. 33A
Douglas Hancey, Rep. Dist. 34A
Dell Raybould, Rep. Dist. 34B
Jeff Siddoway, Sen. Dist. 35
Paul Romerll, Rep. Dist. 35B
Wayne Hurst, Chair Cassia County
Mark Peterson, Chair Legislative Dist. 27
Jim Tibbs, Ada County Commissioner
Rick Yzaguirre, Ada County Commissioner
Dave Case, Ada County Commissioner
Greg Bower, Ada County Prosecutor
Gary Raney, Ada County Sheriff
Stacy Dreyer, Adams County Assessor
Dave Packer, Bannock County Assessor
Vicki Heuett, Blaine County Treasurer
Jerry Clemons, Bonner County Assessor
Dwight Davis, Cassia County Assessor
Ron Fisher, Elmore County Assessor
Jase Cundick, Franklin County Assessor
Kathy Thompson, Freemont County Assessor
Mike McDowell, Kootenai County Assessor
Linda Jones, Lincoln County Assessor
Sharon Worley, Payette County Assessor
Terry Kramer, Twin Falls County
George Urie, Twin Falls County Commissioner
Leon Mills, Twin Falls County Commissioner
Grant Loebs, Twin Falls County Prosecutor
Debbie Kauffman, Twin Falls County
Gerald Bowden, Twin Falls County Assessor
Kristina Glascock, Twin Falls County Clerk
Tom Carter, Twin Falls County Sheriff
Twin Falls County Republican Central Committee
 Letter two:
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter
June 13, 2013
Dear Friends,

I will not mince words: I strongly encourage you to think critically about all the rules and resolutions before you at this weekend’s meeting of the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee, and I urge you to join me in opposing the proposed changes to our rules for candidate selection.

Many of the rules and resolutions before you, taken collectively, amount to an indictment of the very men and women who helped build and maintain the majority we enjoy in Idaho.  It is my considered opinion that the willingness by our citizens to identify themselves as members of the Idaho Republican Party and to serve in elected office should be celebrated, not harshly scrutinized for philosophical purity.  

To govern effectively and wisely, our calculus for public policy must take into account not only the most fervently ideological among us, but also those with whom we earnestly disagree. As Ronald Reagan put it, “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally – not a 20-percent traitor.”

Our primary elections now are closed to non-Republicans. Our Central Committee already has the authority to endorse candidates in primary elections. The goal of our party – of any political movement – should be to broaden and deepen its appeal through open debate, reason and results. Instead, we seem intent on narrowing our focus and our appeal by excluding those with whom we occasionally disagree through selection of candidates behind closed doors.

I believe in the ability of Idaho voters, and specifically Idaho Republican voters, to sort through the information and reach appropriate conclusions about their fitness for office without the guiding hand of the Central Committee winnowing those choices for them. What’s more, I believe efforts to devalue the franchise of Idaho voters runs counter to fundamental Republican principles.   

Please consider these few thoughts as you cast your own votes on the rules and resolutions before the Central Committee. Thank you for your consideration and your support.

As Always – Idaho, “Esto Perpetua”

 C.L. “Butch” Otter

Governor of Idaho

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So what will it be, Brad Little?

Emily Walton pointed out an interesting omission on a Brad Little campaign fundraiser ad.


Neither the campaign literature nor the website specify that Little is running again for Lieutenant Governor in the next election.

Little has already confirmed to Dan Popkey that he isn’t ruling out a gubernatorial run if Gov. Otter steps aside in 2014.  I sent Little an e-mail asking for comment, and I’ll update if/when he writes back.

You can visit Little’s campaign site here. (Note: The last announcement that he’s running for Lt. Gov is from 2009.)

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