Campaign roundup: Sept. 30, 2014

Familiar talking points. Gov. Butch Otter sent out a guest opinion to Idaho newspapers Monday, touting Idaho’s plan to improve its school system — and the work of his education task force.

His takeaway: “Simply put, my school improvement plan is Idaho’s plan. It’s our plan. It was designed by educators, for educators. Its goal is to remove the politics and angst from the conversation and get to the heart of what is right for Idaho students, teachers, and our communities large and small. It will require all of us to ensure it succeeds.”

If the message and the words sound familiar, it should.

About two weeks ago, I asked the governor’s office for comment on the state’s growing dependence on supplemental school levies — a $1 billion bill during Otter’s time in the governor’s office. I received, and we posted, a lengthy statement from spokesman Jon Hanian, pretty much repurposed and recast into first person for Otter’s guest opinion.

Here’s the takeaway paragraph from two weeks ago, in third person: “So simply put, the governor’s plan is Idaho’s plan, it’s our plan. It is the credible result of all the hard work that went into a plan that was designed by educators, for educators to remove the politics and angst from the conversation and get to the heart of what is right for Idaho students, teachers, and our communities large and small.”

POLITICO on governors’ races. The Balukoff camp is touting a brief online mention Tuesday at POLITICO.com. The D.C. political insiders’ go-to site says Otter is one of a number of incumbent governors that may be vulnerable to an upset.
The POLITICO segment doesn’t mention Balukoff by name. And the segment is focused mostly on Connecticut, where incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy may be vulnerable. Here’s the video:

Governor’s ad wars: Five weeks before Election Day, both Otter and Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff are ramping up their TV ads.

But despite the proliferation of ads, the details remain a bit skimpy, says Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press.

Here’s an excerpt from her Monday article looking at the ad content:

“While Otter’s television and online advertisements praise Idaho’s decreased unemployment rate, they do not include that Idaho’s median income for individuals and women is the lowest in the nation.

“Meanwhile, Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff’s campaign ads promise he will make education a priority but they haven’t provided specifics on what he would change. Instead, his ads largely focus on criticizing Otter’s actions and pushing for a change in state leadership.”

Basque connections? GOP state superintendent’s candidate Sherri Ybarra boasts a Basque surname. And such surnames tend to have currency in Idaho politics — fellow Basques Pete Cenarrusa and Ben Ysursa have been in charge in the secretary of state’s office for half a century.

So what about Ybarra’s basque roots? Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review asked the Mountain Home school administrator, and learned that Ybarra is not Basque, but her husband’s family is, going way back.

More here from Russell’s weekend column — including Tom Luna’s take on the superintendent’s race.