This is not a ringing endorsement. The District 33 race between Democrat Jim De Angelis and Republican Barbara Ehardt should be better than it is.
De Angelis has made three prior unsuccessful runs, but he hasn’t shown much change in his platform or campaigning. The Democrats won’t do themselves any favors by running the same candidates over and over. Ehardt’s views are out of step with the average voter in District 33 — a thoroughly moderate Republican district. It’s time to build your bullpen.
This is one of two endorsements on which the editorial board was divided, so unlike most of the others, this endorsement is not unanimous. A majority support Ehardt.
Ehardt has always shown a genuine passion to serve well. And she’s an enthusiastic hard worker.
But that commitment hasn’t always translated into advocating the policies that will do the most good for her district. Too frequently, she’s been led astray by bad information. Enthusiasm is a key virtue in sports. But in lawmaking, judgment is far more important.
For example, Ehardt said she supported a bill pushed by Rep. Bryan Zollinger as an alternative to either Medicaid expansion or last session’s dual waiver proposal. That bill was primarily a set of benefit caps for existing Medicaid recipients, and it would have done almost nothing for those in the gap, as virtually every organization dealing with the health care system testified. It would have harmed more of Ehardt’s constituents than it would have helped.
To address these issues, Ehardt should work hard to get perspectives from a variety of sources and to build relationships at the Legislature outside the narrow clique that calls itself the Idaho Freedom Caucus, an echo chamber where bad information spreads like wildfire.
But Ehardt shows promise as well, particularly on criminal justice reform issues such as ridding the state of its counterproductive mandatory minimum laws and opposing the construction of an expensive new prison in one of the nation’s safest states.
And her experience on the Idaho Falls City Council, where she was often an important voice of opposition, will serve her well when dealing with issues that affect cities.