Fact-checking endorsements from the superintendent’s debate

Incumbent state superintendent Sherri Ybarra and challenger Cindy Wilson made a number of claims in Friday’s statewide debate that warrant closer scrutiny.

Several claims involved endorsements and claims of support heading into the Nov. 6 election. Some claims were a bit difficult to pin down.

Here’s what we found:

Claim: Ybarra said she has the support of Gov. Butch Otter and Lt. Gov Brad Little, two fellow Republicans.

Fact check: Little’s spokesperson confirmed Monday that Little, in fact, offered an official endorsement in the race.

Otter was out of the state Monday, and his press secretary said he would follow up on the endorsement claim once he could speak to Otter. The spokesperson had yet to follow up by late Monday afternoon. But Ybarra’s campaign manager, Tyler Kelly, supplied Idaho Education News with an endorsement letter from Otter Monday.

“Sherri is a principled leader, living by a code that always puts our kids first,” Otter wrote.

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Claim: Wilson raised doubts over an endorsement Ybarra listed on her campaign website. “I found it interesting the list of endorsements, so I started calling people to find out about it,” Wilson said during Friday’s debate. “And the very first person I called on the list when I said, ‘You’ve endorsed my opponent,’ Do you know what he said? ‘I did?’”

Fact check: Wilson questioned an endorsement from Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise. Reached by Idaho EdNews on Monday, Martin confirmed that Wilson called to question whether he endorsed Ybarra. Martin also said he wholeheartedly endorses Ybarra.

“I am 100 percent in supporting the Republican candidate for superintendent of instruction, Sherri Ybarra,” Martin said.

Martin said he wasn’t surprised to see his name on Ybarra’s website because he recently asked Ybarra to endorse him. In return, he said Ybarra asked for Martin’s endorsement, and he agreed.

When Martin was read a transcript of Wilson’s debate comments, he said, “I could see how Cindy could interpret it that way.”

Claim: Wilson said, “I am the only Democrat on the three-member Board of Correction, and my two fellow board members are supporting me in this race.”

Fact check: The Board of Corrections’ other members are Republicans, Debbie Field and Dr. David McClusky.

McClusky confirmed that he is supporting Wilson. “You might find I’m a registered Republican but I vote both ways. I vote for the best one.

“No question I think Cindy’s great,” McClusky told Idaho EdNews. “She’s such a fine person.”

Field, a longtime Republican, did not respond to two messages Idaho EdNews left on Monday. Field served in the Legislature for 12 years as a Republican, and has helped elect many of Idaho’s most prominent GOP officials throughout her life. Field has run multiple campaigns for Otter.

See for yourself: Click here to watch the entire state superintendent’s debate online.

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