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Idaho GOP Congressional Candidates Work To Get Voters' Attention

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Idaho Public Television
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With the Idaho primary just two weeks away, candidates are taking every opportunity offered to get their messages across. Six of the seven Republicans competing for Idaho’s First Congressional District seat explained their positions to a statewide TV audience Sunday night.

The six Republicans are very similar in their views. All believe Donald Trump is a transformational president with an impressive record of accomplishment. All would have voted for the president’s tax cut package that became law. All believe the Affordable Care Act should be overturned and the free market allowed to shape health insurance. All support Trump’s efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on business and industry.

So the challenge then is to distinguish themselves from the others.

In an Idaho Public Television debate on Sunday night, the one woman in the race, state Sen. Christy Perry (R-Nampa) — who owns a gun shop with her husband — played up her one difference, her gender.

“We know that the average congressman is a 58-year-old white male, right? And what have they given us? Twenty-one trillion dollars in debt, a bankrupt Social Security system. We have no solutions for a health care crisis. We need to send a strong Republican conservative and Christian woman to Congress. And I’m asking you to send the girl with all the guns: Christy Perry,” she said.

Another candidate, political author Michael Snyder from Bonners Ferry, claimed the mantle of most conservative candidate in the race.

“We know that, originally, all of the other leading contenders in this race tried to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. They did not want Donald Trump, while from the very beginning, I was a Trump supporter. Evven before Donald Trump got in the race, I resonated with his message. I was talking about a wall. I was talking about our imbalanced trade with China and all the things Trump talked about," Snyder said.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Alex Gallegos played up his military experience, 26 years in active duty and several overseas deployments in war zones. That experience, he says, will serve him well in Congress.

“The lack of discipline in Congress is placing in jeopardy our quality of life, our children’s future and our American values," Gallegos said. "In order to restore discipline in Congress, we have to change who we elect. We need to elect leaders who have discipline, courage and have common sense. In the case of national security, we need leaders with real world experience.”

Two of the other candidates also touted their real world experience in appealing to voters. Russ Fulcher talked about his international business career with Micron Technology and his 10 years in the state Senate.

“With me you know exactly what you’re going to get, someone with deep roots in Idaho who knows this state, someone with global experience in business and also in the legislature, and an optimist, quite frankly, that’s excited about moving forward with this," Fulcher said.

Former Idaho lieutenant governor and attorney general David Leroy is the oldest candidate in the race and that’s not a bad thing, he says.

“We all talk about experience, but with all due respect, the experience that Washington needs right now is not another international businessman or even a girl with a gun. The experience Washington needs right now is a little gray hair, a lot of good judgment and perhaps a touch of statesmanship. I offer that,” Leroy said.

If criticism is any indication of who the candidates think the front runner is, Russ Fulcher has the bullseye on his back. Christy Perry tweaked him for first running for governor, then dropping out to run for Congress with the endorsement of the man he would replace. Labrador is running for governor.

And then state Rep. Luke Malek (R-Coeur d'Alene) took his turn.

“A group that Mike Huckabee has called the Club for Greed has decided that Russ Fulcher, the guy who gave a long, rambling answer on immigration and didn’t know what votes were happening in the Senate and talked about experience and accomplishments but could not point to a single one, decided he should be the one who should be the next congressman from Idaho," Malek said. "The last time the Club for Greed came to Idaho and bought an empty suit for a congressman, he lasted for two years and then he was beaten by a Democrat.”

Malek’s referring to Republican Bill Sali, who lost to Democrat Walt Minnick in 2008.

You can see the full debate at IdahoPTV.org.