Says she and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch are ‘different in every sense’
Efforts to appoint another conservative judge to the U.S. Supreme Court have injected new energy into Idaho’s U.S. Senate race, according to Democratic challenger Paulette Jordan.
“People are pretty riled up,” said Jordan, who stopped by the Lewiston Tribune late last week before a town hall meeting at Pioneer Park.
Senate Republican leaders say they hope to confirm federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett before the Nov. 3 general election. President Donald Trump nominated Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who died last month.
Supporters see Barrett’s nomination as an opportunity to reverse the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that supported a woman’s right to an abortion. However, Jordan said it has sparked both anger and fear among Idaho women.
“I think it will be a concern for every woman,” she said. “People understand there’s a lot at stake in this election besides just the Senate seat. Health care is on the ballot. Women’s rights are on the ballot. The environment is on the ballot.”
It’s been 64 years since a Democratic challenger defeated an incumbent Republican senator in Idaho. Nevertheless, Jordan thinks she has a decent shot at unseating two-term incumbent Sen. Jim Risch.
Although she doesn’t say it directly, she casts the race as a battle between a young, energetic progressive who celebrates Idaho in all of its diversity versus a tired old dog who turns a deaf ear to the interests of his constituents.
For example, she faulted Risch for his repeated votes against the Affordable Care Act, noting that nearly 61 percent of Idaho voters supported the expanded Medicaid provisions of the act in 2018.
“How does that serve the interest of Idahoans?” she said of Risch’s voting record. “I think it’s remarkable that he would ignore the people’s voice.”
Jordan, 40, previously served on the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council, as well as two terms in the Idaho House representing Latah and Benewah counties. In 2018, she became the first woman and first Native American in Idaho to receive a major party’s gubernatorial nomination, but lost the general election to Republican Brad Little.Her strategy in the Senate race is to expand the voter base by attracting more young voters. She rejects the notion that “young people don’t vote,” saying they’ve turned out for her in the past.
“I have faith in them turning out, but we have to do our work,” Jordan said.
She also hopes to pull in moderate Republicans and independents who haven’t been impressed by Risch’s accomplishments over the past 12 years.
“Our polling shows 30 percent (of voters) are still on the fence,” she said. “Some Republicans are seeing that the party hasn’t served them well. It isn’t fiscally conservative or pragmatic, so why vote for Risch? They have a better option: me.”
Jordan describes herself as “a gun-owning, farm-raised mom and businesswoman with two kids.”
“I’m different in every sense (from Risch),” she said.
The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t helped her in her upset bid, however. She’s only been doing extensive in-person meetings and rallies since August. Many of the events, she said, attract 25 to 30 people.
Her Lewiston town hall was “really about getting people activated,” Jordan said. “With four weeks left (until the general election), there isn’t a day to waste. This is an opportunity to turn the state back in a direction that’s sensible.”
Spence may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208)-791-9168.
By: William L. Spence