Idaho’s primary election day, May 17, may provide cause for great celebration for the many Idahoans who are sick and tired of the ugly politics that have invaded our great State in recent years. There are a number of organizations working to restore civility, honesty and pragmatism to the legislative process in Idaho, including Take Back Idaho.
Take Back Idaho (TBI) is composed of Idahoans from across the political spectrum who know that we are capable of governing ourselves with dignity and common sense. Many are former Republican office-holders–House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, Senate leader Bob Geddes, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, State Treasurer Lydia Justice-Edwards, School Superintendent Jerry Evans and myself. TBI’s President is Jennifer Ellis, a conservative Republican, Blackfoot rancher and former president of the Idaho Cattle Association. Distinguished educators, legislators and citizens have flocked to its ranks.
The main reason for the sorry state of Idaho politics is the corrosive influence of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), a so-called think tank that draws substantial support from out-of-state interests. By coddling receptive legislators and punishing those who don’t heed its orders, IFF has established a firm grip over the votes of too many GOP legislators. Divisiveness and dysfunction have replaced pragmatism and civility.
One case in point is a $6 million federal grant for early childhood education that IFF’s legislative minions in the House tanked last year. The funds would have provided education for children up to the age of five and child care relief for working parents. Senators Risch and Crapo strongly supported the program, as did the business community. IFF bizarrely contended the program would indoctrinate preschoolers with critical race theory (CRT). Legislators blindly loyal to IFF followed its instructions, refusing to accept the readily available funds.
Within the last couple of days, Dustin Hurst serving as the vice president of the Idaho Freedom Action sent out 80,000 text messages to voters, targeting legislators who supported the program, ridiculously claiming it “pushes critical race theory” on Idaho toddlers. Hurst is also the vice president of the IFF.
IFF and its captive legislators have flat failed to prove their false claims that CRT exists in Idaho’s public schools. It is simply hateful misinformation designed to discredit public education. The legislators who should be targeted for buying into this nonsense are those who voted against the funding, including Reps. Ron Nate, Judy Boyle, Karey Hanks, Rick Christensen, Heather Scott, Priscilla Giddings, Ron Mendive and Barbara Ehardt.
TBI hopes to persuade May primary voters to replace these IFF-controlled legislators with honest, sensible legislators who will answer solely to their constituents–to elect individuals dedicated to funding and improving our public schools, rather than trying to destroy them–to work together to solve our chronic problems, rather than inventing imaginary problems to score cheap political points.
TBI has set up a website–TakeBackIdaho.com–which provides information on legislative candidates and important issues. It has also established a Political Action Committee to fund voter education and candidate support. If TBI can help take the Legislature back from the firm grip of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its legislative acolytes, Idaho may once again be blessed with a bright and harmonious future.
Voter support across the state is sufficient to do the job. There is great hunger throughout the state to get back to the business of responsible governing. It is absolutely critical for each and every voter in the state to make themselves heard in the Republican primary on or before May 17. Those wishing to vote must immediately check the registration requirements, either through their county clerk or the Office of the Secretary of State.