Consider this in race for Congress

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The Coeur d’Alene Press takes its job seriously to inform citizens about those candidates running for political office. It is an essential and critical job for the media to report candidates’ positions on issues.

Recently, the Press interviewed Congressional candidate Russ Fulcher, which appeared in print on Tuesday, July 31. They reported what was said and did not provide opinion. Just as important, though, citizens should expect the media to request clarifications, if appropriate, without merely accepting a candidate’s stated position. These media interviews help citizens to understand where a candidate stands on issues.

Mr. Fulcher worked for Micron Technologies, is also involved in real estate and served in the Idaho legislature. Cristina McNeil is the Democratic opponent. She works in real estate, earned membership in the Real Estate Circle of Excellence, and was a top producer for four years. Ms. McNeil has served with the Idaho Community Action Network and volunteered with the Alliance for Justice, Main Street Alliance, and the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Idaho organizations. Service is obviously an integral part of these candidates’ careers.

In the interview, Mr. Fulcher states that the fact Paulette Jordan is running for Governor and is a Native American means her support will spill over and give support to Cristina McNeil. He also says it “will attract dollars from Hollywood, East Coast liberal-leaning organizations and tribal interests.”

Betsy Russell on July 16, 2018 wrote in the Idaho Press about campaign finance reports filed by the candidates at that time. According to the financial reports filed through June, Mr. Fulcher has raised $612,499.23 of which nearly $100,000 came from PACs. This includes $10,000 from the Majority Committee PAC located in Bakersfield, Calif. $47,000 in donations was funneled through the House Freedom Fund and $6,000 from Koch Industries. The Club for Growth, a national anti-tax and anti-regulation political group, which is located in Washington, D.C., (on the East Coast) spent $500,000 in advertising for Fulcher.

By the way, Ms. McNeil reported $5,955.55 raised at the time according to the same article.

Betsy Russell further states “all told and disregarding campaign debt Fulcher has more than 26 times as much cash on hand as McNeil.” Mr. Fulcher’s concerns are confusing. It sounds like he’s planting seeds of fear and spewing out campaign spin. Or, is it “the pot calling the kettle black?”

Mr. Fulcher says he’s sticking to “meat and potatoes matters” like jobs, the economy, healthcare and immigration” not social issues like Senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Fulcher was an Idaho State Senator for nine years. He was in a position to stick to meat and potatoes issues during those years. Idaho families must be able to put the meat and potatoes on the table. The current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is quite low, even with the low unemployment rate of below 3 percent.

Furthermore, healthcare is essential in Idaho. Even though a majority of the Idaho residents support the Medicaid expansion, Mr. Fulcher does not. His opinion apparently has more value than the electorate.

And, there are reasons to support immigration reform in Idaho. Immigrants are important contributors to the economic base in Idaho, especially in the agriculture and dairy businesses. Too, immigrants play an important role in the cultural richness and diversity of our beautiful state. How does the Wall address this?

In addition, Senator Sanders is not running in Idaho. Cristina McNeil is. Ms. McNeil advocates for issues like a living wage (jobs), healthcare for all, education and immigration reform. I would like to hear from Mr. Fulcher on ways he will address these issues to make life better for the people of Idaho. I encourage voters to read the websites for both Mr. Fulcher and Ms. McNeil.

I believe it is appropriate for the press to question candidates about their positions as well as question the accuracy of their comments. Doing so will help to provide a clear understanding of all the candidates’ positions.

The citizens of Idaho need to know where candidates stand and what actions they will pursue to make our lives better. The media, particularly local newspapers, are the best source for this information to become an informed citizen and to use our common sense when voting. Citizens, the media, and the candidates have a responsibility to each other and must be the checks and balances for healthy communities in Idaho and our country.

• • •

Paula Marano is a Coeur d’Alene resident.

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