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POLITICS: Campaigns

Idaho GOP debate 'as politically correct' as poop 'in a punchbowl'

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Republican Party,Idaho,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Political Correctness,Spencer Brown

In Idaho's Republican gubernatorial race, it's politics as unusual, a situation evidenced by a recent debate that brought attention to the broad spectrum of candidates in contention.

"It's a race between a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy," says Harley Brown, one Republican candidate for governor.

This colorful characterization came during a debate in which each of the four GOP hopefuls tried to convince voters his is the best plan for Idaho from 2014 into the future. The backgrounds of the candidates are as diverse as their debate apparel, with qualifications including being a great-grandfather, a professional engineer, a state Republican Party leader, and the incumbent governor.

Harley Brown was a Seabee in the Navy, trained as a professional engineer and worked as a public works officer. (He's the biker in the quartet he mentioned above.)

State Sen. Russ Fulcher has a degree in business and is the chairman of the GOP caucus.

Walt Bayes has 70 years of experience living in Idaho under his belt, and is a proud great-grandfather.

Then there's incumbent Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, in office since 2007.

While the enthusiastic crew may look to be a cross between a "Saturday Night Live" spoof and a Village People cover band, the topics covered in unorthodox ways were similar to those heard in other Republican races as the 2014 midterm elections draw near: Concern about overreaching government, economic uncertainty and a wandering from traditional values were at issue, although the discussion quickly grew strange.

Otter and Fulcher spoke along the typical Republican Party lines, but Brown and Bayes stole the show in pursuing their own form of political theater.

"Don't think I'm crazy 'cause I'm not," Brown warned in his opening statement. Later he added, "I'm about as politically correct as your proverbial [piece of excrement] in a punchbowl and I'm proud of it, and I'm going for it, and I'm going for the vote of the real people out there."

"If the Supreme Court goes to hell, I'm not following," declared Bayes while discussing abortion.

The full video of the debate can be seen on Idaho Public Television. Idaho voters will have their chance to choose from these four contenders on May 20.

Real Clear Politics currently lists Idaho's gubernatorial race as "safe" for Republicans.

Related: That viral gubernatorial debate made Idaho a 'laughingstock,' says Idaho Governor Butch Otter's main challenger.

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Spencer Brown

Special to the Examiner
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