We were not impressed with Paulette Jordan during her run against Gov. Brad Little. She has matured considerably as a candidate since then and has been a much more active campaigner in Idaho.
We continue to have concerns that there is more surface than substance in Jordan’s campaign. She seems to have honed her talking points, but it is at times difficult to discern what her core policy commitments are, what she will fight for if elected.
On the other hand, Sen. Jim Risch has felt largely absent from Idaho for the last six years, and the fact that he’s up for re-election seems to have done little to change that. Ask yourself: What has Risch done — since gutting the revenue stream for education during his brief stint as governor — that has significantly impacted life in Idaho?
He’s refused to debate Jordan in a live format, a disservice to his voters who deserve the chance to see him answer hard questions. He refused to answer our questions as well.
In the U.S. Senate, Risch has chosen to devote himself largely to far-off matters of foreign policy, which is to some degree understandable. He is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and foreign policy is of vital importance.
But Risch has done terrible harm in the foreign policy arena. That is particularly true when it comes to his deeply disturbing record with regard to Saudi Arabia.
Risch promised real consequences for the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. There should have been much harsher consequences for Saudi Arabia’s conduct of the war in Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed in indiscriminate or targeted bombing, and where the Saudi state came to the brink of causing a famine of genocidal proportions. There have been no consequences of significance, despite bipartisan efforts to hold Saudi Arabia accountable using the Global Magnitsky Act.
The only consequence Saudi Arabia has faced for its horrifying atrocities against Yemeni civilians using our weapons has been a constant stream of more weapons as they use them up. Risch has dutifully protected that steady stream of arms from interruption.
Recently, a suppressed State Department legal opinion — authored four years ago when the Obama administration was engaged in the Yemen conflict — emerged into public view. For years, the state department’s lawyers have been warning that U.S. officials involved in the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia risk prosecution for war crimes.
With his security clearance, Risch must have been aware of this legal opinion. But there has been no more enthusiastic booster of arms sales to the Saudis than Risch, even when other Republicans on his committee have been openly critical and at times revolted.
This stance is profoundly callous and immoral, and when voters go to the polls, they should consider whether they want to implicate themselves in it by backing him.