U.S. Senate race may give us our sports fix
| August 3, 2020 1:21 PM
In case you haven’t noticed … Baseball is back, but no telling for how long; the National Basketball Association is playing in this funny bubble in Florida; who knows what’s going to happen with football; and there’s golf, but no fans following the players.
It has been a rotten year, for sure. Can we have a mulligan?
But at least we have some good fights happening in the political arena, with President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden providing generous material for late-night comics. Then, there’s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who can’t seem to agree on anything.
In Idaho, we have a U.S. Senate rate that is starting to heat up. The incumbent, Sen. Jim Risch, is fresh off a speaking engagement to Rotarians in Coeur d’Alene and his Democratic challenger – former state Rep. Paulette Jordan of Plummer – has gotten some traction on the editorial pages with her criticisms of Risch.
She offers praise to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah for having “the courage of his convictions” in standing up to Trump, while saying that Risch’s “only convictions are those authored by and emanating from the White House.”
Risch, as many longtime incumbents do, ignores his opponent. He’ll talk about why Trump should be elected, or the socialist wave of the Democratic Party. But forget it if you ask him to respond to Jordan, or the left-leaning columnists who go after him. The odds are with him in this race with Trump on his side and Idaho being a Republican state.
In his Rotary speech, he addressed a number of topics – including the COVID-19 crisis, the World Health Organization, foreign policy and the fact there is an election coming up in November – without mentioning Jordan’s name, or talking about his race specifically.
He received some nice coverage in the Coeur d’Alene Press, starting with the lead paragraph: “If one thing is ever clear when Sen. Jim Risch speaks at a local event, it’s his unwavering pride and love for America.” The staff writer observed that Risch “has that same love for Idaho and feels it every time he comes back from working in Washington, D.C.”
Risch knows well that Coeur d’Alene is a friendly place. But Jordan was not so kind in her commentary, tagging him with the nickname “Not My Job” Risch and asking why the senator – as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- has not gotten to the bottom of reports of the alleged Russian bounties on American troops.
“We all know Risch’s position that it is ‘not his job’ to question the president,” Jordan said in a news release. “Wrong. It is the job of every senator to act as a co-equal branch of the U.S. government to check and balance the system. …He can’t just ‘fake news’ (these concerns away.”
On his leadership overall, she says, “Sen. Risch fails Idahoans in so many ways, but the most egregious failures are those in the areas of moral leadership, integrity and independence. Risch is in a bad marriage with the White House. For better or worse, he’s chosen to back Trump on just about everything.”
And to a lot of Republicans, Trump is worthy of the support Risch offers. One of the senator’s big events recently was celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Idaho Women’s Business Center, aimed at providing a resource for the women entrepreneurs in the Gem State. The center, he says, has been especially valuable during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been a blessing to Idaho that in less than a year, our first year, that with the help of Sen. Risch, Idaho has such an impactful program in place,” said Diane Bevan, Idaho WBC executive director.
This is about what we will be seeing over the next three months, with Risch touting his accomplishments and Jordan hoping to sway voters with her blasts. With the dearth of action on the playing fields, Idahoans have at least something that’s worth watching.
Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at email@example.com