Recapping a feisty lieutenant governor’s debate

Idaho’s lieutenant governor has a limited, part-time role, but that didn’t stop the Republican field of candidates from engaging in a feisty debate Tuesday night.

At one point, state Sen. Bob Nonini again walked back his stated support for making abortion subject to the death penalty, drawing a sharp rebuke from fellow state Sen. Marv Hagedorn. Later, Hagedorn accused former state GOP chairman Steve Yates of falsely claiming military experience, a charge Yates denied. (For more about both exchanges, here’s a full story from Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press.)

Education did come up in the hour-long Idaho Public Television debate. Here are the bullet points:

  • Nonini touted his experience as the sole candidate to serve on an education committee in the Legislature. (He chaired the House Education Committee and later served on the Senate Education Committee.) He pointed to his work to create Idaho’s STEM Action Center and his service on Gov. Butch Otter’s higher education task force, and doubled down on his support for then-state superintendent Tom Luna’s education overhauls, which voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2012. “I’ve taken on the hard fights during the great recession.”
  • Former state Rep. Janice McGeachin took a swipe at Common Core — mentioning the academic standards in the same sentence as Obamacare in an argument for state sovereignty. She also took a swipe at Nonini for supporting Common Core. Nonini was House Education chair in 2011, when the Legislature adopted Idaho’s version of Common Core. (Here’s more on the Common Core back-and-forth, from McGeachin’s campaign page.)
  • Hagedorn touted his work to bring medical education to the Gem State, particularly the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, under construction in Meridian.
  • State Rep. Kelley Packer pointed to her six years of experience in the Legislature, and pledged to use the post to work on complicated legislative issues, such as education.

The five Republicans will square off in the May 15 primary. Kristin Collum of Boise and Jim Fabe of Sun Valley will meet in the Democratic primary.

Click here to watch Tuesday’s debate online.

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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