The Kiss of Death

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

While most of Tuesday's primary election is pretty cut and dried, there are a few contested races that are important, both locally and at the state level.

So it is time for our annual "Kiss of Death" endorsements of those candidates in contested races that we believe would best serve us. Frankly, especially at the state level of races, there's a lot of nuts out there, with only a few quality gems thrown in the mix.

Locally, the Republican ballot contains two races for the county commissioner's seats that are both contested.

For District 1, incumbent Arlie Shaw is being challenged by Dave Pursell. Our editorial board, composed of key members of the staff, was split on this race. Everyone agreed both men were competent and no one had any problems with the job Shaw had done. But the board believes that Pursell would be a step up, citing in particular his involvement in the community and therefore greater contact with members of the voting public. Pursell earns our endorsement in Tuesday's primary.

For District 2, the board unanimously agreed that incumbent Larry Rose has learned and grown over the years in the job, provides key institutional memory (he's the longest serving member of the commission), and has earned re-election. We therefore endorse Rose over his challenger, Doug King.

The District 22 legislative races see only one contested race, where Clayton Cramer is seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Tim Corder.

When someone accuses Corder of being too liberal (or at least not conservative enough), you can pretty much figure Cramer is way out in right field -- in fact, beyond the bleachers. Corder may be a little more conservative on some issues than we'd normally like, but there is no question he is a hard-working, responsive and intelligent legislator who has represented District 22 well. The editorial board unanimously and strongly endorses Corder for re-election.

At the state level, the main battle is for who will replace disgraced Sen. Larry Craig.

On the Republican ballot, nine candidates are running, but only one in our opinion, has the background, training and understanding of ALL the issues for the job -- former governor Jim Risch. None of the other candidates comes remotely close to Risch in being prepared to represent the needs of this state in Washington, D.C.

On the Democratic side of the ballot, the U.S. senate race is between perennial candidate Larry LaRocco and David Archuleta. We believe LaRocco represents the best choice on that ballot and urge those who select Democratic ballots to cast their vote for him. He will clearly offer the best challenge to Risch in the fall.

At the presidential level, the Democratic ballot is merely for show, as the bulk of delegates to the national convention were selected during the caucuses earlier this year. Still, the vote shows where the candidates have their support, and we're of the ABC mindset on this one (Anybody But Clinton). Obama is clearly, in our opinion, the best Democratic candidate and deserves your vote. (Democrats also will find Keith Judd on the ballot, but he's serving time in a Texas prison and had filed as a joke that slipped through the state's candidate vetting process).

For those who select the Republican ballot, the race is actually over for the nomination, but Ron Paul is still officially running against John McCain (Paul actually bothered to visit Idaho recently). Idaho is a conservative state, but not as conservative as Paul. We believe McCain clearly is the best candidate for the Republicans in the fall and deserves your vote.

The Republican ballot also includes the race for the congressional District 2 House of Representatives seat, currently held by Mike Simpson. We believe Simpson has clearly outperformed his actual seniority ranking in Congress. He has done a great job for the state of Idaho, perhaps the best of all the current members of the delegation, and has more than earned re-election. We strongly endorse Simpson for another term in Congress.

Finally, there is a rare challenge to a sitting state Supreme Court judge on the ballot, with northern Idaho district judge John Bradbury seeking to unseat incumbent Joe Horton. Bradbury is a little iconoclastic, which might be a good thing, and has bothered to actually campaign in Elmore County, but to be honest we don't know enough about either man to make a call here.

Tuesday may not be the most exciting of elections, but there are some key local races that could turn on just a few votes. Whoever your preferred candidate is, we urge you to be a responsible citizen, get out and vote for them.