Rudy Soto of Nampa announced today that he’ll run for the 1st Congressional District seat currently held by GOP Rep. Russ Fulcher in 2020. Soto, a Democrat, was born and raised in Nampa and is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and the son of a Mexican immigrant. A first-generation college graduate, he also is a veteran of the Army National Guard.
He already has been endorsed by two big-name Idaho Democrats, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, and former Democratic gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff.
“Idaho’s 1st Congressional District needs a representative who will work to advance the values every Idahoan shares, regardless of party,” Erpelding said in a news release. “Rudy Soto’s roots in Idaho and experience fighting for strong bipartisan policies make him the right candidate to protect Idaho’s public lands, expand public education, and grow our economy.” You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Tuesday's edition of the Idaho Press.
Soto, 34, said in a news release announcing his candidacy that he’s running to make sure people in the district “get a fair shot when it comes to jobs, education, and affordable housing.”
Fulcher is a first-term congressman who was elected in 2018 with 62.8% of the vote to Democrat Cristina McNeil’s 30.8%. Fulcher previously served as a state senator from Meridian.
Soto, a Portland State University graduate, spent five and a half years in field artillery with the Oregon Army National Guard, and served four years as a military policeman with the District of Columbia National Guard. He also served as a legislative fellow, a policy analyst for the National Council of Urban Indian Health, a legislative assistant in the U.S. House, and most recently, as legislative director for the National Indian Gaming Association. He is making his first run for office in Idaho; he previously was elected student body president at Portland State and made an unsuccessful run for the Portland City Council during his senior year of college.
Erpelding said he decided to take the unusual step of endorsing a candidate before the Democratic primary after meeting with Soto. “My feeling is here’s a guy who is not a neophyte to politics,” Erpelding said. “He may be new to Idaho politics, but his experience in D.C. and growing up in Idaho makes him a bit different than our other candidates.”