Thursday, May 22, 2014

An otter, a vulture, a biker, and a great grandfather walk into a bar...

That’s what I imagine might have happened on the evening of May 14th after Idaho Public Television held the hour-long debate between all four Republican candidates on the primary ballot for Governor. You can watch it all here on YouTube.

The debate wasn’t originally meant to be that way. The rules had called for only “active candidates” to be included. That would have meant that two-term Governor Butch Otter would just have faced his one credible challenger, state Senator Russell Fulcher.

Apparently Otter’s campaign decided that would undesirably raise perception of Fulcher. So, he insisted that all four should appear, including the bearded biker Harley Brown and great grandfather Walt Bayes. Based on Brown’s previous use of profanity, a 30-second delay was used. Two of his memorable lines were:

“I’m about as politically correct ay your proverbial turd in a punch bowl.”

and his summation of the candidates as being:

“A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker, or a normal guy.”

National news coverage was less than positive. An Associated Press story said Fringe Contenders Send Idaho Governor Debate Viral. The Los Angeles Times quipped Gubernatorial debate turns Idaho politics into very small potatoes.

The Today show on early morning TV had a 1-1/2 minute video clip titled Wacky Idaho Debate Goes Viral. They referred to the bearded pair as the ZZ Top candidates. Then on May 21st The Colbert Report did a seven-minute segment about Idaho’s Bizarre Gubernatorial Debate.

Results of the primary election were:

Butch Otter: 51%
Russell Fulcher: 44%
Harley Brown: 3%
Walt Bayes: 2%

So, Otter’s strategy worked. He won, though with an even smaller percentage than the 55% he got in 2010 when challenger Rex Rammell came second with only 26%.

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