The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation is non-partisan and does not endorse any gubernatorial candidate. The Idaho primary election currently has a highly contested race for the Republican candidate for Governor. Therefore, it is the focus of this page.
The Idaho Farm Bureau Federation asked the three leading Republican gubernatorial candidates five questions that Farm Bureau believes are important to its members. Following are the responses from Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Rep. Raul Labrador and Dr. Tommy Ahlquist.
Q: What is the purpose of government and your role as governor?
Little: The proper role of government is to provide an environment where business can thrive and families can prosper. State government can help provide infrastructure and a solid workforce, but then must get out of the way and allow the free enterprise system to work.
On a typical day, a governor makes several decisions that affect Idahoans now and into the future. You need a governor who instinctively understands Idaho and knows the interests of rural communities. Making Idaho the destination of choice for our children and grandchildren is the lens by which I will look at every decision as governor.
Labrador: Government should create an environment where businesses and citizens thrive, provide essential services to citizens, be good stewards of taxpayers’ money, treat all constituents equally and with transparency and reduce the regulatory burden on citizens.
As governor, my role is to provide and execute a vision for a stronger and more prosperous Idaho. I uniquely can rely on my Idaho Statehouse and national experience as U.S. congressman to implement my vision. Most importantly, Idahoans know what to expect from me: I have a proven, consistent, conservative record, have taken on special interests and made tough decisions.
Ahlquist: The purpose of government is to serve the people of Idaho in the limited and enumerated roles outlined in the Idaho and U.S. constitutions. I believe the limited role of government is to get the heck out of our way.
When government does have a role, it should work as hard as the people of Idaho and we should demand the same level of excellence as we do from ourselves. The governor is the CEO of the state and should provide statewide vision and leadership. The governor should also to execute the laws of our state and fight for Idahoans.
Q: Are you satisfied with the current size and scope of state government? If not, how would you change it?
Ahlquist: No. Government shouldn’t grow faster than our citizens’ paychecks. I have a plan to reform Idaho's cap on government spending, that will put in place an actual cap that prohibits government spending from growing faster than personal income growth. This is an important additional side board to our balanced budget requirement that will safeguard against out of control government spending.
A fresh look and full evaluation of how we spend each of our taxpayer dollars is equally important. We must eliminate wasteful government spending and ensure that we are bringing efficiencies to state government that invest our tax dollars effectively.
Labrador: I am not satisfied! Making government more accountable, transparent and efficient are essential ingredients in my vision for a stronger, more prosperous Idaho. As governor, I will get government out of the way; government regulations have muffled the creativity and potential of our citizens, higher tax rates have limited economic development, federal mandates have crippled education and healthcare in Idaho and politicians in power have passed out too many favors to the well-connected.
I want to unleash Idaho’s potential by reducing regulatory burdens, lowering taxes, fighting to eliminate federal mandates and to provide equal opportunity and transparency for all Idahoans.
Little: Like on our family farms and ranches, state government must be focused on the drivers of spending and make necessary cuts in order to be prepared when times get tough.
I believe Idaho is a model for fiscally responsible government. As a conservative, we cannot rest on our laurels. Although the legislature and the governor delivered tax relief this year for families and businesses, set aside more revenue in our rainy day funds, and invested more to improve education, there is still more to do to ensure we have a pro-growth climate here in Idaho.
Q: As the head of all state agencies, what would be your regulatory approach?
Labrador: President Trump wants to “drain the swamp” federally and I firmly believe Idaho has a swamp of its own. I believe Idaho suffers from crony capitalism, that Idaho’s government is picking winners and losers and that special interest groups are benefiting unfairly from Idahoans’ tax dollars.
We need to restore citizens to their rightful place; government should serve them, not the other way around.
Under the “Why I’m Running” section of www.RaulLabrador.com, I summarize my position this way: “We need a leader who will hold people accountable, make government more efficient, more transparent, and fully open for citizen review.”
Little: My mantra with regulation is, we must ensure only the lightest possible hand of government in the day-to-day lives of our citizens and businesses.
As governor, I will require all agencies to put together regulatory impact statements, much like fiscal impact statements, to determine the impacts of rules on families and businesses. Last year, I issued the Idaho Freedom Licensing Act that reviews all professional licensure, with the aim of reducing burdens on Idahoans seeking to make a living.
As governor, I will bring a healthy skepticism of regulation and aim to reduce burdens on Idahoans.
Ahlquist: As an emergency room doctor for 18 years, the first line of the Hippocratic oath is to first do no harm. My regulatory approach will be to follow those words and get government out of the way of our families and businesses. As a small businessman, I’ve dealt with ridiculous government regulations first-hand and I know that over-regulation harms business.
I’ll fight to remove burdensome regulations facing all areas and appoint people in my administration who come from the industries they are regulating. I think we should be following President Trump’s example of rolling back multiple regulations for every new one.
Q: Do you support Idaho taking over management of our federally administered lands?
Ahlquist: Yes, study after study shows that Idahoans are better stewards of our lands and that we know how to take better care of our lands than bureaucrats in D.C. The principle I always follow is the closer the giver is to the receiver, the better. With Idaho managing our lands, we can ensure first and foremost public access and multiple use of lands for grazing, timber harvest, mining, and recreation. As with most things, Idaho will always do a better job than the federal government.
Little: I have a long history, as a cattle and sheep industry leader, of working on these public lands issues. I was a sage brush rebel in the late 1970s. I sued the Clinton Administration over its top-down Roadless Rule in 2000, halting implementation and allowing Idaho to draft its own state Roadless Rule in 2006.
Local communities across Idaho, those folks on the ground, must have more say in day-to-day management, and I would pursue every option to get more control over management of our federal lands.
Labrador: Sixty-five percent of Idaho’s land is owned by the federal government (38 percent is national forest). In 2012 and 2015, I was lead sponsor of the Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act “that will allow state and local management of federally-owned forests and improve forest health, boost local economies and save taxpayers money.” In 2015 I stated: “We in Idaho know local managers will be better stewards of the 193 million acres in the national forest system.”
In 2011, I introduced the “Idaho Land Sovereignty Act” to protect ranchers (livestock grazing), tourism and motorized recreation in Idaho from federal overreach in monument designation.
Q: Would you support the construction of additional dams in Idaho? If so, what specifically would you do as governor to ensure results?
Little: I’m excited about the headway we have been making on [aquifer] recharge, but we must do more. The need for stored water, both surface water and groundwater, is essential. Idaho’s future is dependent on it. With our dynamic economy, we need to ensure we have the water infrastructure for existing industries, while also accommodating future economic growth across Idaho.
Any new dam project would require significant investments from the public and private sectors. As governor, I will bring people to the table, and lead a coalition that determines where we need additional storage and develop a plan for getting it done.
Labrador: I believe the construction of new dams in Idaho should be based on the economic needs of the state to take into account the agricultural community, flood control, electricity, transportation, and environmental concerns. Capital investments of this size require all stakeholders to work together collaboratively, including local, state, and federal. I would be involved in ensuring these stakeholders work together in a way that benefits consumers and taxpayers.
Ahlquist: Yes, absolutely. More storage options are critical to keeping our Idaho water right here in Idaho where it belongs. It is time for less talk and studies and more action to make this happen. I will work closely with our federal delegation, all the key stakeholders and industry experts to find ways to aggressively pursue more storage options. I will also work closely with the agricultural community to ensure recharge efforts continue and water rights are protected. I will fight to protect Idaho’s water for farmers, ranchers and dairymen and make sure Idaho maintains sovereignty over its water.