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A GUIDE TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RACES: IDAHO

7 minute read
TIME

IDAHO

Population (1994): 1,133,000 (up 12.5% from 1990), 0.4% of U.S. total

Voting-age population: 803,000; 1994 turnout, 51%

Median age: 31.5 years

Median household income: $31,536 ($728 below U.S. median)

Unemployment: 5.1% (0.5% below U.S. average, March 1996)

Last presidential election: Clinton (D): 28% Bush (R): 42% Perot (I): 27%

Congressional delegation: No Democrats, four Republicans

The Gem State, famous for potatoes, continuous snow in winter, and Ruby Ridge, sometimes seems like two states in one: the southern section, with its flourishing high-tech industries and conservative Republican politics, influenced by the substantial Mormon population that migrated north from Utah in the 1860s, and the more remote northern areas, filled with Idaho’s notorious militias and survivalists. At some level, resentment of government seems to unite the Idaho population, probably because the Feds own 65% of the state’s land, including national forest and wilderness areas; and this year’s hot-button issue is the huge Idaho National Engineering Laboratory and its store of “temporary” nuclear waste.

LARRY CRAIG (R) SENIOR SENATOR

BORN: July 20, 1945, Council EDUCATION: U of Idaho, B.A., 1969; George Washington U, 1969-70 FAMILY: Wife, Suzanne; three children RELIGION: Methodist MILITARY: National Guard, 1970-71 OCCUPATION: Farmer; rancher POLITICAL CAREER: Idaho Senate, 1975-81; U.S. House, 1981-90; U.S. Senate, 1990- ADDRESS: 415 North Eighth, Boise 83701. Tel.: 208-387-1996

When Craig was chosen chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee in June, many believed he had his Senate election sewn up: he became the fourth most powerful Senate Republican and the only Westerner at the leadership table. But he had not counted on the growing appeal of his budget-cutting challenger, Walt Minnick. Now Craig finds himself in a tighter race and has counterproposed his own cuts, such as disassembling the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion NO Guns NO Gays NO Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare NO* National Service NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “The facts are, tax cuts stimulate the economy and we have ready proof of it, and I believe it can create increased tax revenues.”

WALT MINNICK (D) SENATE CHALLENGER

BORN: Sept. 20, 1942, Walla Walla, Wash. EDUCATION: Whitman College, B.A., 1964; Harvard U, M.B.A., 1966, J.D., 1969 FAMILY: Wife, A.K. Lienhart-Minnick; three children RELIGION: Unitarian MILITARY: Army, 1970-72 OCCUPATION: Wood-products-company executive POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: 815 Park Boulevard, Suite 130, Boise 83712. Tel.: 208-345-2559

Taking a column from the Ross Perot spreadsheet of political life, each week Minnick invites the press to a “Sunday Pork Chop,” where he explains how to balance the federal budget. A Nixon Administration budget aide, Minnick wants to eliminate “corporate welfare,” get our allies to foot part of the defense bill and trim spending without raising taxes or gutting entitlements.

THE ISSUES

Budget NR Medicare NO Defense NO Abortion NR Guns NR Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare YES National Service YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “My priority in the U.S. Senate will be to balance the budget now, and not on the backs of children, seniors, the environment or education.”

HELEN CHENOWETH (R) District 1 (West–Boise, Nampa, Panhandle)

BORN: Jan. 27, 1938, Topeka, Kans. EDUCATION: Whitworth College, 1955-58 FAMILY: Divorced; two children RELIGION: Christian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Public affairs consultant; congressional aide POLITICAL CAREER: U.S. House, 1994- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 897, Boise 83701. Tel.: 208-336-5525

Chenoweth–ranked one of the “10 Dimmest Bulbs in Congress” by The Progressive magazine–is one of the more colorful and controversial conservatives in Congress, which helps explain the ranking by the liberal magazine. Democrats have charged her with a litany of ethical infractions, including undeclared loans, loans taken without collateral and improper use of campaign contributions–all of which she attributes to honest mistakes. But her chief issue–individual rights vs. federal regulations–is no small bone of contention in the vast First District, which might like to send a rule bender to Congress.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NR Gays NR Bosnia YES NAFTA NR Welfare YES Medical Leave NR (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We could literally do away with the IRS.”

DAN WILLIAMS (D) District 1

BORN: Sept. 24, 1962, Boise EDUCATION: Yale U, B.A., 1984; U of Michigan, J.D., 1988 FAMILY: Wife, Emily RELIGION: United Methodist MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer; Governor’s counsel POLITICAL CAREER: Democratic nominee for Idaho House, 1990 ADDRESS: P.O. Box 2837, Boise 83701. Tel.: 208-336-6050

Williams combines a moderate Democratic agenda with a powerful attack on the ethics of his opponent, the ultraconservative Helen Chenoweth. In this predominantly conservative district, his campaign strategy has been to paint his opponent as a hotheaded extremist– who may have misused campaign funds–while portraying himself as a level-headed leader. Williams promises to protect wages, support job training and cut the budget in ways that will not lower the standard of living of Idaho’s families.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion NO Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA NO Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “We must maintain the quality of life Idahoans enjoy by balancing reasonable environmental protection with the need for responsible development of our natural resources.”

MIKE CRAPO (R) District 2 (East–Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls)

BORN: May 20, 1951, Idaho Falls EDUCATION: Brigham Young U, B.A., 1973; Harvard U, J.D., 1977 FAMILY: Wife, Susan; five children RELIGION: Mormon MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Lawyer POLITICAL CAREER: Idaho Senate, 1985-92; U.S. House 1992- ADDRESS: P.O. Box 1013, Boise 83701. Tel.: 208-368-7988

From his seats on the Agriculture and Commerce committees, Crapo has been intimately involved with the two big issues for Second District Idahoans: farming and the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. He drafted the Precision Agriculture Research Act of 1996, and on the hotly debated I.N.E.L. front, Crapo supports the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Act, which will begin to treat and remove low-level nuclear waste from its Idaho site. Conservative and Mormon, Crapo fits his district’s demographics to a tee.

THE ISSUES

Budget YES Medicare YES Defense NO Abortion YES Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia YES NAFTA NO Welfare YES Medical Leave NO (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “Idaho farmers want more flexibility, less paperwork, fewer regulations and an opportunity to earn a living from the marketplace.”

JOHN SEIDL (D) District 2

BORN: May 9, 1965, South Ruislip, Britain EDUCATION: Colby College, B.A., 1988 FAMILY: Single RELIGION: Episcopalian MILITARY: None OCCUPATION: Construction-company owner POLITICAL CAREER: None ADDRESS: P.O. Box 921, Boise 83701. Tel.: 208-342-5530

The candidacy of a young, moderate Democrat in this conservative Republican district has been called quixotic, but Seidl maintains he has entered to win–not just so the popular, well-funded incumbent can have an opponent. The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers local has taken him seriously and endorsed him. Seidl has pledged to enhance the traditional research work of the National Engineering Laboratory, the state’s largest single-site employer, and protect the Snake River aquifer, threatened by the lab’s growing stockpile of nuclear waste. In every respect, a tall order.

THE ISSUES

Budget NO Medicare NO Defense YES Abortion NO Guns NO Gays YES Bosnia NO NAFTA YES Welfare NO Medical Leave YES (For an explanation of these issues, see the front of this guide.)

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I don’t like where the country’s going. I think the pendulum has swung too far to the right.”

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