The Idaho Statesman editorial board endorses Risch’s Democratic challenger, Paulette Jordan, in the race for U.S. Senate.
We hold no naive notions about the uphill battle Jordan faces. Idaho is a state with a strong track record of voting Republican. Risch won his last re-election bid with 65% of the vote against his Democratic challenger in 2014.
But we question Risch’s record as a conservative legislator.
In 2007, the year before Risch first went to Washington, D.C., as Idaho’s junior senator, the federal budget deficit was $161 billion, and the national debt was $9 trillion.
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Today, 12 years later, the federal budget deficit is $3.3 trillion, and the national debt is estimated to be $26 trillion.
This is a point that Jordan rightly hammers on.
“The biggest issue is the fact that we do have a senator who has been putting our country into debt,” Jordan told the editorial board in an interview. “I think many folks are very familiar with his term in office, how far downhill we’ve gone in terms of our debt in this country. But the bigger issue is now to stop the spending, we need to close all the loopholes, the subsidization of our corporations and billionaires. And because we’re not doing that, we’re throwing our people’s tax dollars away, really into the wind and not into our economy.”
Risch declined an invitation to interview with the Statesman Editorial Board. The Statesman will not endorse a candidate who doesn’t interview with the board.
RISE ABOVE PARTISAN POLITICS
Jordan vows to work across the aisle and rise above partisan politics to come up with solutions that average citizens care most about.
Jordan, of Plummer in North Idaho, unseated a Republican incumbent in the Idaho House of Representatives in 2014. She went on to successfully defend her seat in 2016.
Before joining the Idaho Legislature, Jordan was elected to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council and also served with several national tribal organizations.
Jordan ran for Idaho governor in 2018, becoming the first woman nominated to the position by a major party in Idaho and the first Native American woman nominated for governor in U.S. history. She defeated A.J. Balukoff in a rare contested Democratic primary. Jordan lost the general election to Republican Gov. Brad Little, but during that race, she drew national attention to her campaign.
Jordan defeated Jim Vandermaas in the Democratic primary in May in this Senate race.
Jordan touts her deep Idaho roots and cites public lands, health care and education as her top three priorities.
On health care, Jordan is eager to look for solutions and is not “beholden to insurance companies or big pharmaceutical industries.”
She supports the Affordable Care Act and sees health care as a human right.
“My plan calls for action in a Medicare For All Plus, which is that we need a health care system which puts data on the center stage of the effort,” she said. “We need to incentivize practices, procedures and medications that are cost-effective, and this is how we achieve massive savings. This is how we tackle the burden of chronic disease, and this is also how we make health care a patient-centered activity, instead of making it a profit revenue center activity.”
She said she favors working toward the ultimate goal of a single-payer system in health care.
“I’m entirely committed to health care as a human right and not as a privilege, which is what we see today,” she said.
She favors breaching the lower Snake River dams as a way to protect salmon, but she looks at it through the lens of the economic damage those dams have created. She also said any resolution needs to include solutions for those who would be negatively affected by removal of the dams.
On climate change, Jordan is on the Democratic National Committee’s Environment and Climate Crisis Committee, committed to policy solutions aimed at reducing reliance on fossil fuels and emissions that contribute to global warming.
Jordan has experience in Washington, having spent 10 years representing tribes for the National Indian Gaming Association.
We held out hope that Ray Writz, the Constitution Party candidate in this race, would bring commonsense solutions to our federal budget deficit and restore the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Instead, he provided conspiracy-theory talking points and history lessons in mistakes made by the federal government decades ago, rather than focusing on practical solutions for today.
RISCH’S DISAPPOINTING RECORD
Risch’s track record in the Senate is one of disappointment.
In 2018, he reportedly held up the federal spending bill because he was angry that the White Clouds Wilderness would carry the name of Cecil Andrus, a longtime Democratic political foe of the grudge-holding Risch.
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Risch has repeatedly failed to fulfill his role as a legislative check on the executive branch.
Risch has deemed “grossly inaccurate” reports that President Trump was briefed on Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers but did nothing about it.
Risch remained silent when the president apparently surprised his own advisers by withdrawing troops from Syria and abandoning Kurdish allies after speaking with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for three hours by phone on a Sunday afternoon.
As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Risch refuted his own committee’s bipartisan report that clearly showed members of the Trump campaign welcomed and received help from Russia before the 2016 election. Risch sticks with the mantra of “no collusion,” an apparent attempt at semantic gymnastics to weasel out of the hard truth that, at the end of the day, the Russians wanted Donald Trump to win the presidential election so badly that they interfered in our elections — and are apparently continuing to do so.
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Risch has remained silent as President Trump has damaged our relations with our allies, and attacked and threatened our participation in NATO. He said nothing when President Trump, at a press conference in Helsinki in 2018, publicly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s explanation that the Kremlin didn’t interfere in our 2016 elections, refuting his own U.S. intelligence agencies.
Risch has also refused to criticize Trump’s lack of force in responding to the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabia.
Regardless of your political persuasion, the legislative branch still must be an effective check on the executive branch, and Risch appears to be more of an enabler of the president than a counterbalance, even when it appears the president is not acting in the best interest of the United States. That’s failing his Idaho constituency and putting party before country.
It’s time for a change in the Senate, and we welcome the opportunity for Paulette Jordan to take on the job.Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Idaho Statesman’s editorial board. Board members are publisher Rusty Dodge, editor Christina Lords, opinion editor Scott McIntosh, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser and community members Mike Wetherell and Sophie Sestero.
By: The Editorial Board