Paulette Jordan cropped may 2020

Paulette Jordan

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Idahoans are accustomed to the quality of independence in their elected officials. Leaders like Frank Church, Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt have all exhibited strong Idaho values in the face of party orthodoxy. Looking out into the political landscape in 2020, it is easy to spot the leaders from the followers. Idahoans can respect the positions of Utah’s Senator Mitt Romney even when we do not agree, because at least Mitt leads with the courage of his own convictions. Senator Jim Risch’s only convictions are those authored by and emanating from the White House. One issue to the next, Risch follows from the rear with blind obedience in order to feather his own nest and continue his run as a 44 year+ career politician, and a very wealthy one at that.

As of recent, Romney has been dripping with political courage and the kind of principled dissent that has become all too rare in an era of hyperpartisanship. Romney has gained the reputation of being one of few Senate Republicans regularly willing to speak candidly when he disagrees with the Executive. He called Trump’s recent decision to commute his friend Roger Stone’s sentence, “unprecedented, historic corruption.” He was the only Republican senator that voted to convict President Trump of abuse of power in impeachment proceedings, and he was one of the few GOP members of Congress to take part in one of the many anti-racism protests sweeping the country. In May, Senator Romney blasted Trump’s serial firing of government watchdogs. He said, “Doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”

What do we hear from Jim Risch on these issues? Crickets. Acquiescence. Enabling. Senator Risch fails Idahoans in so many ways, but the most egregious failures are those in the areas of moral leadership, integrity and independence. Risch is in a bad marriage with the White House. For better or worse, he’s chosen to back Trump on just about everything. When Trump cried “hoax” on the reports of Russian intelligence personnel paying bounties to Taliban militants, Risch parroted, “grossly inaccurate.” If the reports are inaccurate, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he should get to work to set the record straight. These allegations weigh heavy on the minds of all Americans. But if the President is not going to do anything about it, neither will Jim. Jim Risch is a sheep. He needs to grow some courage.

Jim Risch simply does not possess the backbone that is independent leadership. The path he’s leading us down is quite frankly dangerous. Risch has been either asleep or consciously silent through the impeachment hearings, through Trump’s COVID-19 response, through the ousting of several inspectors general, through Trump’s politicized use of federal security forces against BLM protestors, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s refusal to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, through reports of Russian bounties on American troops, through Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence — and all this within the span of the past year. He’s essentially dubbed himself chief enabler to the White House.

Jim Risch is not the leader you need in Washington. He has and he will vote against your interest if he thinks it serves him politically or personally. This critical time in our country’s history calls for responsible moral leadership and independence — it’s why I’m running. Risch has had his time. Eleven years in the Senate and he still has no legacy other than corruption to stand on.

Paulette Jordan is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate in Idaho.

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