DECISION 2014: Idaho governor's race heating up - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

DECISION 2014: Idaho governor's race heating up

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Butch Otter says he'll focus on job creation and education if re-elected Butch Otter says he'll focus on job creation and education if re-elected
KOOTENAI COUNTY, Idaho -  "Lets keep Idaho the reddest of the red, you can do it, get out and vote," said Governor Butch Otter to a crowd of potential voters. These were the Governor's parting words before he left to continue on his GOP tour of the panhandle. He was traveling with a number of other GOP candidates, all of them fighting to keep their seats in office come November. The tour, one last effort to promote their party and policies.  

Governor Otter says his biggest accomplishment since taking office in 2007 was keeping the Idaho economy strong after the 2008 recession.

"We have the 5th fastest growing economy in the United States, only outdone by those with gas, oil and coal," says Otter.

While Otter says the state's economy is strong, his focus, if he gets re-elected, is to turn towards public schools, a topic Otter's opponent has attacked him on a number of times. Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff said in a statement to KHQ that Otter "has dismantled our public schools, imposing some of the deepest cuts to education in the country."

Otter mentioned job creation and work force development were of his top priorities, and Balukoff again criticizes the governor's lack of funding for schools, saying "people understand that our schools are the foundation of our economy, and there's a connection between that and the low-wage economy."

Recently Idaho has been in the national headlines for same-sex marriage. The state's battle has been defined as a rollercoaster as the ban was overturned twice, after Governor Otter had a stay issued. But even though he's lost the battle for same sex marriage, he says the fight isn't over and the defense of traditional marriage is a platform for his campaign.

"I support the state's right to choose, it's in the 10th amendment of the U.S. Constitution. And I don't want to surrender that to some folks in black robes, to overcome the will of the people in the state of Idaho," says Otter.

In a debate after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ban, Balukoff defined Otter's fight against Gay Marriage as "discrimination".

Balukoff and Otter differ on same-sex marriage. “Discrimination is discrimination and it's always wrong," Balukoff said during a debate October 9. "No matter how many of our citizens vote to pass the law, we cannot pass a law that violates the United States Constitution. This is about discrimination, treating all people with fairness and respect. Regardless of what our belief may be, we still need to treat them equally.”

Before polls open on November 4th, A.J. Balukoff is planning on taking is own tour of the panhandle late next week.

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