|By Dan Popkey, The Idaho Statesman|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Tonight at 8 on Idaho Public TV, they will appear in their only debate in advance of next week's primary. Playing the conventional hand of a favored incumbent, Otter declined all other head-to-head invitations.
Since October, Fulcher has argued the case for change, saying the two-term governor has lost touch. Though he's one of the most successful politicians in
Otter, 72, won his first election for the
Fulcher, 52, was appointed to the
Fulcher heads a slate of tea party-backed candidates aiming to finish the job of overturning the
"We're supposed to be temporary," Fulcher said. "We're not supposed to be here for 40 years like my opponent."
Fulcher said the campaign trail has opened his eyes to something he didn't expect. "The people of
Campaigning since October, Fulcher said he senses anxiety "in the eyes of folks when I'm shaking hands. ... I can see almost this downtrodden attitude. I think we need some leadership in this state that is telling people, 'You can do it,' and then create a system to try to empower them."
Otter, who began his career as a libertarian voice, shakes his head at the insurgent campaign against him.
"Who would ever have thought anybody would run at me from the right?" he said. "The dividing line is pretty well drawn."
Now that the economy is rebounding, Otter says he wants to finish the job. "The reason I'm running again is because we've got a lot of good things started. ... There's a lot to be accomplished in the next four years, and I think I'm the man to do it," he said.
Otter bristles at the suggestion that he's a career politician, noting that his four years in
Also in the
WHO ARE THEY?
Fulcher grew up on a dairy farm in
He worked for
Fulcher was appointed to the
Otter grew up on farms in
He served five years in the
After two terms in the
But a 1993 DUI conviction and the end of his marriage put Otter to the toughest test of his political career; he survived by winning a three-way primary in '94 with 40 percent of the vote and the general election with 53 percent. He made economic development his focus and has visited 82 countries on behalf of Simplot or the state.
In 2000, Otter was elected to the first of three terms in the
Fulcher: When he began his campaign, he said he was running because Otter was the only Republican governor with a
"The health exchange is an economy killer," Fulcher said. "People are scared to death of this. Small business is already hindering their steps as a result, and we've got to create an alternative path."
Otter: The governor has said Fulcher ignores the reality: the Affordable Care Act is law and
"The very people that would have invited the federal government to run our insurance exchange are the very people that are trying to get them out of
Fulcher: About 62 percent of
But Fulcher said an aggressive legal strategy in this area is the key to
"Start driving those steps, take those constitutional steps," Fulcher said. "And there's a really good argument to be made.
"Is this going to happen overnight? My point is we're an aircraft carrier pointed this direction, now listlessly floating. We need to kick the engines on and point it this way. Is it going to take some time? Yes it is. But that is the answer."
Otter: A veteran of a similar movement in the 1970s, the Sagebrush Rebellion, Otter said Fulcher wrongheadedly raises hopes. Citing opposition that includes Republicans in
Otter questioned the economics, citing management and firefighting costs. "If they'd give me all the federal lands and still pay the forest fires and say that under the (National Environmental Policy Act) and under the Endangered Species Act I'm released from all the (environmental impact statements) and from all the government rules and regulations," it might pencil out. "But I've gotta also be realistic," he said.
DIVESTING COMMERCIAL PROPERTY
Fulcher: He said that as president of the Land Board, he would sell buildings that compete with the private sector's office and retail space.
Doing so, he said, wouldn't conflict with the board's constitutional duty to provide the maximum long-term return for beneficiaries, including K-12 and higher education.
"Fortunately, that's not a challenge because my understanding is that commercial portion of the business that the Land Board is engaged with is also one of the lowest returning," Fulcher said. "So I think we can do that."
Otter: "Return on capital is greater under the commercial properties than on most" other investments, Otter said.
According to the
The return for
Fulcher: Another key motive for Fulcher's campaign is to kill the Idaho Core Standards that establish what students should know and be able to do before graduation. Common Core standards were adopted by 45 states; they emphasize critical thinking and real-world applications in math and language.
Though he voted for the standards in 2011, Fulcher has reversed course, saying it will mean federal control and "teaching to the test."
"It's the whole national standard thing which just rubs some people the wrong way, and I think rightfully so in some cases," Fulcher said. "I know
Otter: A backer of the standards, Otter said they came from the
"We've got some work to do, and the reason we do is because the genesis of Common Core is totally misunderstood," he said. "There are a lot of people who think it was a federal plot to take over curriculum in every state -- and in some cases, even a
The program does not establish curriculum, Otter said, and is aimed at helping
ADD THE WORDS
Fulcher: Fulcher helped enact
He opposes extending civil rights protections to gay people.
"More and more people are realizing this is a religious freedom issue," he said. "If that new class is created, those who disagree with it wind up in some cases having to serve it. There is the clash of cultures. The real debate is whether or not to change the norm that's been followed for thousands of years," he said.
Otter: Otter said "traditional marriage in
He declined to say whether he would sign a bill to expand the Idaho Human Rights Act, but said proponents should have received a legislative hearing this year.
Otter said he has "very close relatives" who are gay and are loved and respected in his family. "I have always supported human rights for everyone, individual rights for everyone. I made my bones in early politics -- everybody called me a libertarian. And there's no true libertarian that wants to put a shackle on anybody."
VALUES AND LEGACY
Fulcher: Fulcher said he took on the uphill campaign because he's deeply troubled by what he sees as government growth.
"I believe we live in a divinely inspired republic that was created with the individual at the pinnacle. Within my lifetime, that pendulum has swung to where the government is that pinnacle," he said.
"With all the government programs we've created over the years, we've replaced the family in some ways, and that's not right. So my effort would be to include and empower people as much as I can."
Otter: Though he wouldn't commit to not running for a fourth term in 2018, when he would be 76, Otter said that after 12 years as governor, his top aim would be school reform, including implementing a five-year,
"What I would want to have accomplished is a reformed, effective education system -- K-through-career -- that builds a workforce for the future and enables people, each and every one, to reach their own potential," he said. "I don't think there's anything more important than that."
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