Governor Debate

Brad Little and Paulette Jordan, the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Idaho, face off in the “Idaho Debates” broadcast live from the studios of Idaho Public Television on Monday, Oct. 15.

Here’s a link to our full story on last night’s debate between Brad Little and Paulette Jordan. Post Register reporter Nate Brown writes that Jordan spent much of it on the offensive, attacking the “Little-Otter administration,” as she sometimes called it, over issues such as education funding.

One such exchange took place as Little outlined his plan for early childhood education, which includes boosting funding for kindergarten and early childhood reading programs and, in districts that want it, for pre-kindergarten programs. He said he would be able to fund it without raising taxes, using increasing revenue from economic growth.

“My plan is doable,” Little said. “I can get my plan through the Legislature.”

“You’ve had nine years to make any kind of difference whatsoever, but you continue to fail the public good, and it’s too little too late when it comes to your plan you’re speaking of,” Jordan said. Little has served as Idaho’s lieutenant governor, a part-time position whose main duties are presiding over the Senate and filling in when the governor is out of state, for the past nine years.

“Perhaps you’ll get in a position where you’ll understand the role between the lieutenant governor and the governor,” Little replied.

Associated Press reporter Rebecca Boone writes that the Idaho Public Television debate started with a lively exchange on transparency. Jordan refused to answer a question about a Wyoming business to which she has paid $20,000 in campaign expenditures just a few days after it was created, but said she's been "above ground" on all campaign finance issues.

"I firmly believe in transparency," Jordan said, "which is why every single question you've asked me I've given you the information including my own income taxes."

Little, meanwhile, noted that he both drafted and passed some of Idaho's open government laws. "I think it speaks to the essence of a democratic republic that people know where the money comes from and who contributes the money," he said.

Among other notable takeaways from the debate: As the two debated immigration, Little called for comprehensive reform at the federal level while Jordan spoke out for sanctuary cities in Idaho, which the state now doesn’t have, saying that would mean “removal of the federal agencies and more local control.” But she said she opposed kicking ICE out of Idaho, saying, “ICE actually does a good job.”

Jordan said she misspoke during a debate in the primary when she said the AR-15 has “no place in Idaho,” and said she meant to say that about bump stocks.

Little declined to say how he would vote on Proposition 2, the Medicaid expansion initiative, but said, “I will implement the will of the voters and work with the Legislature to make sure it’s implemented in the best possible manner.”

Asked who would make up their cabinet and key advisers if elected, Little said he knows all the current agency directors and helped vet many of them. “Some of them will obviously stay,” he said. But he said it would be premature to name any. Jordan said she’d turn to people like one of her campaign’s healthcare advisers, from Seattle, who “used to advise the Air Force and the Pentagon,” and whose ideas are “cutting edge.” Asked if she was planning to fill her cabinet with people from out of state, Jordan said, “If that’s where the best and brightest come from.”

The two clashed over how Idaho's doing on education, citing different measures.

Jordan also called for buying back federal land if the state has the opportunity to do so, and declared, “This is not a Republican state, this is an independent state.”

Little said he’d focus on jobs, education and affordable health care, to provide “the best possible opportunity for our children, our grandchildren and ourselves to be successful in the state of Idaho.”

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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