Idaho Debates with logo Vandermaas Jordan

Jim Vandermaas, left; moderator Melissa Davlin, center; and Paulette Jordan, right, on the "Idaho Debates" on Friday night, May 1, 2020 on Idaho Public Television.

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Paulette Jordan and Jim Vandermaas, the two candidates facing off for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, both painted themselves as the best qualified to take on GOP Sen. Jim Risch during the first installment of the “Idaho Debates” on Idaho Public Television.

“All of my campaigning has been inside the state, focused on my voters and not trying to promote any national image,” declared Vandermaas, a retired police dispatcher, communications specialist, firefighter, paramedic and telecommunications company owner, in the program that aired statewide on Friday night.

Vandermaas ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary for the 1st District congressional seat in 2018, losing to Cristina McNeil.

“I’m an indigenous woman not afraid to stand up and advocate for the people of Idaho,” said Jordan, a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, former state legislator and the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor. “My legislative service and the extensive time spent on the road in 2018 have given me a broad view of the many ways Idahoans’ voices are not being heard.”

She said, “I truly believe I’m the only one of the people in this race with enough fortitude and support to unseat Sen. Jim Risch.”

Risch is unopposed in the GOP primary; the winner of the Jordan-Vandermaas contest will face him in the November election, along with Constitution Party hopeful Ray Writz and independent Natalie Fleming. You can read my full story here at, or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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