Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Paulette Jordan spoke to the City Club of Idaho Falls via video call on Friday.
Jordan was harshly critical of her opponent incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, calling him a “partisan sheep” and accusing him of being asleep on the job repeatedly, a phrase she has used repeatedly during the campaign and a reference to when he briefly nodded off during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in January, a moment that was captured by a New York Times sketch artist.
“Mr. Risch is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the culture of Washington, D.C.,” Jordan said.
The City Club, which has been around for more than a decade and brings politicians and other newsmakers to Idaho Falls to speak at its regular luncheons, has instead of serving a lunch with an audience been livestreaming these talks since the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic and letting people submit questions online.
David Adler, who moderated, said the City Club invited Risch as well, hoping to host a debate between the two candidates, but he declined. Jordan has been calling on Risch to debate her, but so far Risch has not agreed to any debates; as well as the City Club’s, he also declined to take part in one Boise TV station KTVB was trying to arrange. The two candidates do plan to tape interviews that will be broadcast on Idaho Public Television; IPTV is holding separate question-and-answer sessions for candidates this year instead of live, in-person debates, as it normally does, due to coronavirus and the elevated risk of having the candidates and multiple other people in the studio for an extended period. The one between Jordan, Risch and independent candidate Natalie Fleming is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. on Oct. 16.
Jordan, a former state House member from Benewah County and member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, ran for governor in 2018, losing to Republican now-Gov. Brad Little. Risch has been in the U.S. Senate since 2009 and was active in state politics for years before that, serving in the state Senate, including as Majority Leader and Senate president pro tempore, and also serving as lieutenant governor and a brief term as governor for his election to the U.S. Senate.
Jordan spoke for about an hour, accusing Risch of not displaying the independence that, she said, is an Idaho political tradition and calling him “a subsidiary for the White House, a lap dog, an enabler.” She criticized him for getting rich while in office, and said most of his campaign donations come from out-of-state and from corporate lobbying groups.
“We’re fed up with this blind subservience to the party and to corporations,” she said.
In answering a few audience questions read by Adler, Jordan called for action on climate change and reiterated her support for the Affordable Care Act. She criticized Risch for opposing it, pointing to the passage of Medicaid expansion with 61% of the statewide vote in 2018, and said “health care is on the ballot” this year.
“He has ignored every single voter that has come out to champion this cause,” she said.
Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews
By: Nathan Brown