Editor’s note: A wide-open and critical election year is looming in Idaho in 2018. This is the eighth of a periodic series of interviews with candidates for state and federal office — with an emphasis on education topics.
Michael Snyder says he is not a politician — but a firebrand, fighter and 100 percent supporter of President Trump.
“He restored my faith in America,” Snyder said.
The Bonners Ferry Republican has spent the last several years writing for conservative and Christian websites. He has jumped into the crowded race in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District with a simple pledge. If elected, Snyder says he wants to be Trump’s “best friend in Congress.”
Snyder is one of six Republicans in the 1st District race, alongside former state Sen. Russ Fulcher of Meridian; former Attorney General and Lt. Gov. David Leroy of Boise; state Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d’Alene; state Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa and Nicholas Henderson of Post Falls. It’s a wide-open race since 1st District incumbent Raul Labrador has jumped into the Republican race for governor.
Not surprisingly, Snyder says he supports Trump’s direction on education policy — which includes a concerted attempt to push federal K-12 dollars into school choice. Snyder, 48, says he plans to send his own child to private school or opt for home-schooling.
Snyder applauds Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for her fervent support of school choice. DeVos remains one of Trump’s most controversial Cabinet choices, nearly a year after her appointment, but Snyder sees potential in DeVos and the other outsiders Trump has brought into his inner circle.
“I think she was a good choice by President Trump,” he said. “I think she’s getting the hang of it.”
Last year, Labrador co-sponsored a bill to abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Snyder supports the idea; he says the federal agency has long skewed to the left of the general public, and he says states and local school districts should be empowered to chart education policy.
But Snyder said he isn’t necessarily opposed to federal funding for education — which Idaho receives to the tune of $264 million a year. Much of that money goes into special education or programs to help at-risk students or students in poverty. He does say the feds’ money should go to the states without any strings attached.
Snyder’s campaign handout refers to only one specific education topic — the Common Core standards, which have been in place in Idaho schools since 2013. He concedes that the standards are a state issue, and he said he hopes the 2018 Legislature repeals them. Saying it’s “insane” that a conservative Legislature would allow Common Core in place, Snyder said he is also campaigning on behalf of legislative candidates who want the standards repealed. “We need to clean up Boise as well as Washington, D.C.”
Like the other candidates in this open congressional race, Snyder is running on a host of federal issues.
His campaign literature talks of abolishing the income tax, the IRS, the Federal Reserve and the Environmental Protection Agency. He says he will flatly oppose any bill of any kind that funds Planned Parenthood. He says a comprehensive immigration bill could address students who are in the United States under DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but a bill must tighten security and include a border wall.
He sees 2018 as a crucial midterm election. Democrats hope to regain control of Congress, establishment Republicans hope to reclaim control of their party. And Snyder says he wants to build on what he’s seen in the past year.
“A little flame has started,” he said. “Can we fan it into a fire?”
MORE READING FROM THIS SERIES
Russ Fulcher: ‘I’m not a slash-and-burn kind of guy’
David Leroy: ‘We are making false promises to ourselves in many quarters’
Luke Malek: ‘We need every dollar that we are putting into education’
Christy Perry: ‘We need to break the cycle of poverty’
Tommy Ahlquist: ‘It’s creating that clarity’
Raul Labrador: ‘If we’re going to take some of the credit then I think we need to take some of the blame at the governor’s office’
Brad Little: ‘We have an obligation to explain how important education is today’