ISJ EDITORIAL: Little has right stuff to solve Idaho's problems

The last time Idaho had a governor and lieutenant governor from different political parties was 1995.

Back then it was two Idaho political icons who filled those roles — legendary Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus and an upstart Republican lieutenant governor by the name of C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Although Andrus and Otter were from different sides of the political aisle, they worked together from 1987 to 1995 and proved to be a good team.

Andrus was arguably Idaho’s best governor and Otter went on to become a congressman and then our state’s current governor, serving for three consecutive terms.

Fast forward to 2018 and Idaho has Republican Brad Little running for governor against Democrat Paulette Jordan, and former state Rep. Janice McGeachin on the Republican side battling Democratic political newcomer Kristin Collum for the lieutenant governor post.

After interviewing the candidates and reviewing their records, we strongly encourage Idahoans to split their votes between Little, the state’s current lieutenant governor, and Collum, an Army veteran with a wealth of experience in the tech industry.

If your only goal when entering the voting booth is to make Idaho the reddest state in the nation, go ahead and vote for a Little-McGeachin ticket. If you want Idaho to have an inclusive government that tries to engage everyone in solving the state’s problems, listen to us and vote for Little and Collum.

What about Jordan you might ask?

Although Jordan has improved as a candidate since the primary, she doesn’t measure up at all to Little who’s been helping to lead our state since 2001, first as a legislator and then as lieutenant governor. We have confidence that Little knows how to successfully navigate the Idaho Legislature — a vital skill for any governor — because he’s done it for many years and we feel he has the respect of politicians on both sides of the political aisle.

When we talked to Jordan last week about her platform, we were impressed with her improved ability to articulate her views and not offer evasive responses. During the primary she did a lot of talking but seemed to ramble. She definitely has a more well-defined stance on the issues now and regardless of what happens in November we believe she’s got a bright future if she wants it in Idaho politics.

But her take on the state is that we’re a glass half empty. She believes Little as part of the Otter administration has had his chance to fix Idaho’s economy, schools and health care system and has largely failed.

Little, who helped Idaho survive the Great Recession, has a more optimistic view of the state and points to a number of positive trends, from our very low unemployment to better teacher pay to the state’s best-in-the-nation population growth rate.

We have more faith in Little being able to build on that momentum than we do with our state government starting fresh with the inexperienced Jordan at the helm.

We wish we could say that Idaho’s shortcomings could be fixed by Jordan simply winning the election, but that’s just not the case. We have zero confidence that she’d be able to work with the Idaho Legislature, and we’re quite sure she’d quickly find herself in over her head with most aspects of leading our state. Watching a Gov. Jordan flounder due to her inexperience would not be fun for any of us to watch because it would mean Idaho would be taking a big step backward.

We also disagree with Jordan’s notion that Little will be an Otter clone. Anyone who knows the two men can tell you there are differences.

In a lot of ways Little could be a better governor than Otter. We give Little higher marks than the current governor in terms of building relationships with various constituent groups around the state and making sure they’re treated fairly by their state’s leadership.

Little will bring a thoughtful style of leadership to Idaho that will result in progress being made regarding the state’s problems and everyone feeling like they’re part of those solutions.

That style we feel would be complemented by the addition of the Democrat Collum to the Little administration.

As a former Army officer who worked with Gen. Colin Powell, we feel that Collum is no liberal. She would not sabotage Little or try to turn our state purple.

In many ways Collum is a political moderate who would have the same thoughtful and practical approach as Little when it comes to leading the state.

Her military and tech company experience would fill in gaps in Little’s background and would provide our state with well-rounded and inclusive leadership.

We trust that she’d work with, not against, Little in much the same way as Andrus and Otter cooperated.

Several local Republicans interestingly enough have voiced concerns to us about the effectiveness of a Little-McGeachin administration.

McGeachin is seen as a far-right candidate and one only has to listen to her answer questions at a debate or give a speech to find out why.

There are plenty of Idahoans who share her pro-life, pro-gun, small government views, but we fear that electing her to the lieutenant governor’s position will have an alienating effect on the many Idahoans who are more moderate than her.

That being said, if you’re ultra conservative and you want a candidate who shares those views, McGeachin is probably going to be your choice.

But if you feel like America has enough polarizing politicians and we need inspiring leadership in Idaho that will bring us together to achieve common goals, a Little-Collum ticket is the only choice.

It says something that local Republican leaders have expressed concerns to us over McGeachin being elected and serving as governor when Little is on out-of-state business. They fear what she’ll do even as the state’s temporary leader in such cases.

It’s not a good sign that McGeachin’s seen as too extreme by some people in the Idaho Republican Party.

It’s also telling that some of the local GOP leaders who’ve talked to us have suggested that a Little-Collum ticket would better serve Little as well as our state.

We agree and hope you do too on election day.