Candidates spar on Hobby Lobby, plus …

(UPDATED, 2:50 p.m. Wednesday, with response from Otter campaign.)

Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case spilled over into Idaho’s gubernatorial race. And began a three-day back-and-forth between the candidates.

Otter State of State folo
Gov. Butch Otter

In hailing the ruling — which said that companies need not cover contraception, under the 2011 federal health care law — Gov. Butch Otter said Democratic opponent A.J. Balukoff would “happily go along with (President) Obama’s attempts to repress religious freedom and individual rights.”

Balukoff called the statement a misleading attempt to draw attention away from Otter’s “terrible record” — including his education record. Balukoff says Otter “continues to overlook” Idaho’s constitutional mandate to provide a uniform and thorough schools system.

Here’s the statement from Otter’s office:

“As governor of one of the states weighing in on this case, I’m encouraged to see religious liberty trumping Obamacare’s headlong rush to impose a contraceptive mandate on the American people. Today’s ruling confirms once again that President Obama’s policies – when left unchecked – are eroding our constitutional rights. I remain committed to challenging that misguided course at every opportunity, and I’m grateful to courageous individuals and employers willing to stand up and be counted.” 

Here’s the more political statement from the Otter campaign, in full:

“Like his support for same-sex marriage, the Hobby Lobby case provides a vivid example of how my Democrat opponent’s support for Obamacare and President Obama would undermine Idaho values. As governor, this Boise Democrat would not only support Obamacare, he would happily go along with Obama’s attempts to repress religious freedom and individual rights,”

And here’s the response from the Balukoff campaign, also in full:

Balukoff announcement
A.J. Balukoff

“By misrepresenting my views, Otter makes one point very clear: He knows he will lose if he tries to run on his own, terrible record.

“I am confident that Idahoans can see Otter’s tactics for what they are, an attempt to divert attention away from his dismal 40-year political record. Idaho is last in the nation in per capita wages and in education spending. Otter is camouflaging his flawed policies that leave regular Idahoans on the outside looking in. It is clear that the governor hopes people forget about such issues as the ongoing FBI investigation into the private prison scandal. And, after 40 years in politics, he doesn’t want people to remember that his own campaign is top-loaded with high-paid lobbyists who represent private prisons, the Luna Laws, and major out-of-state contractors who live off of Idaho government contracts.

“The truth is, I support both the United States and Idaho Constitutions, including equal protection under the law, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, and the responsibility of the state to provide a uniform and thorough education for all of Idaho – the mandate he continues to overlook year after year.”

And here’s Wednesday’s response from the Otter campaign:

“It’s clear where I stand when it comes to protecting Idaho’s values, through fiscal responsibility, investing in our classrooms, creating opportunities for more and better jobs, improving Idaho’s business climate, and fighting for our freedoms and against federal overreach. About all we know for sure about my opponent is that he supports same-sex marriage in Idaho — against the wishes of Idaho voters — that he agrees with Obamacare with all its mandates and is eager to lock up the Boulder-White Clouds in a national monument. If he disagrees in any meaningful way with Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the other D.C. Democrats — including their support for the unconstitutional Obamacare contraceptive mandate — he certainly isn’t talking about it. The people of Idaho deserve to know where someone who wants to lead them stands. So far, my opponent is trying hard to dance between the raindrops, and all he’s doing is getting wet.”

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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