Brad Little Rally on Basque Block

Lt. Gov. Brad Little interacts with supporters during a campaign event in downtown Boise’s Basque Block in support of his current bid for governor Aug. 29.

Brad Little’s experience, demeanor, knowledge of the issues and his willingness to consider other points of view earn him the endorsement of this editorial board to be Idaho’s next governor.

Paulette Jordan’s campaign has brought a new energy to the Democratic party in Idaho, and she strongly and unequivocally endorses such progressive issues as Medicaid expansion, legalization of medicinal cannabis, local option tax, repeal of the grocery tax, universal pre-K, increasing teacher pay, reducing corporate interests in politics, public funding of campaigns, among a host of other issues. Her campaign is not trying to be slightly left of the Republican establishment, and we think that’s a good thing to foster a healthy and vigorous debate on the issues.

But in a conservative state like Idaho, if these progressive ideas are going to win the day, it’s going to require a person with tremendous interpersonal and communication skills. Having personally interviewed Jordan, we’re not convinced she’s that person. We’re also concerned with the turmoil in her campaign as a harbinger of how she’d run her administration and her lack of endorsements during the primary from Democratic legislators who have served with her in the Legislature.

We understand and respect the position of some Idahoans who say we’re not doing enough to improve K-12 education in Idaho, our go-on rate, our lack of employees to fill high-tech and STEM-related jobs that require bachelor’s and master’s degrees, that our legislators haven’t done anything about the Medicaid gap population. They argue a vote for Little would just be a continuation of the same. A vote for Jordan would shake things up and push for more rapid change.

For sure, Little is the safer, stay-the-course bet, but we’re not convinced that Jordan would be able to implement many of the things she’d like to implement.

Little makes a compelling argument that Idaho has been on an upward trajectory — it may not be as sharp of a trajectory as some would like — but it’s an upward trajectory, nonetheless. And Little expresses a nuanced approach to solving some of the problems Idaho faces. He’s not so dogmatic that he dismisses pre-K out of hand by calling it daycare. To the contrary, he supports funding pre-K in Idaho, as long as it takes different forms in different communities, recognizing that what works in Boise might not work in Melba.

He supports finding alternative solutions to the state’s booming prison population, favoring a look at drug treatment and revisiting some mandatory minimum sentences rather than a $500 million expansion of the prison system.

While he won’t share how he’s going to vote on Medicaid expansion, he said he would support implementation of it if it’s passed by voters. He said he’s worked hard looking for an Idaho solution that would serve the gap population without expanding Medicaid.

Little recognizes problems with the state’s procurement system, saying that “the people who buy pencils and asphalt might not be the best people making the decisions on buying” complex computer systems for the state.

Little is an establishment Republican, which means he wields a lot of power and would be a powerful governor in working with both parties in Idaho. He also knows how government — and the governor’s office — work from the inside out and would hit the ground running.

In the end, we’re convinced Idaho continues to head in the right direction and with a little more nudging, Little is the right person to lead the way.

Our editorials are based on the majority opinions of our editorial board. Not all opinions are unanimous. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison and community members Buzz Beauchamp, Nicole Bradshaw, Rex Hanson, John Jolley and Kathleen Tuck. Editor Scott McIntosh is a nonvoting member.

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