Russ Fulcher takes on Democrat and Libertarian for third term representing Northern Idaho in Congress

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By Betsy Z. Russell

Idaho Press

U.S. Representative Russ Fulcher has established himself as a hardline conservative and Trump supporter in his first two terms representing Idaho in Congress.

Fulcher, a Republican who is seeking a third two-year term and faces Democrat Kaylee Peterson and Libertarian Darian Drake in the November ballot, went on Fox and Friends on the morning of January 6, 2021 to tout his intention to oppose the certification of the Results of the 2020 presidential election.

“This is going to be a monumental day in American history, make no mistake about it,” Fulcher told the network. “There are tens of millions of people who want to see action on this. They are absolutely convinced that there is electoral fraud. We have a real problem on our hands if we don’t act here.

After the ensuing Capitol attack — in which Fulcher was in the House chamber — he told the Lewiston Tribune he was in “angry mode” because “we had serious business to attend to, and here, morons were trying to break in. .” But he defended his position and was the only member of Idaho’s all-GOP delegation to vote against certification of the election results.

Fulcher, who declined to be interviewed for this story, said in written comments submitted to the Idaho press that voters should re-elect him because of his “extensive life experience in the private and public sectors, with a measurable track record, priorities that align with most Idahoans, plus the skills and drive to succeed in the job.

He strongly opposed abortion from conception, backed outright support for gun rights, and strongly opposed Democratic policies, including spending, immigration and health care proposals. . As his greatest accomplishment in office, he cites the work of his office’s constituent services, which he says secured the release of more than $5 million from the federal government to Idahoans, mostly related to veterans benefits and to income taxes.

Fulcher also cites his sponsorship of the MAPLand Act, which passed in April and directed federal agencies to digitize public land boundaries to improve access; he was supported by the entire Idaho congressional delegation. And he says he has worked to ensure that faith-based and nonprofit organizations are included in the Paycheck Protection Program; and to direct federal funds to rural Idaho broadband and healthcare programs that were funded under the CARES Act in 2020.

He drew the line, however, by calling for appropriations or “member-directed spending” for his district, drawing criticism for missing federal funds that his district, which includes northern Idaho, would otherwise have. could receive. In 2021, Fulcher was one of 30 House Republicans who pledged never to ask for them.

In a guest review, he referred to the funds as “pet project spending” and wrote, “Despite continued media criticism accusing me of not caring about my district and ‘withdrawing’ from getting funding for Idaho, I fought back. assignments since the day it was rumored they were coming back.

“Every federal spending bill is a bill for our grandchildren,” he wrote.

Fulcher lists his top three issues this year as promoting individual personal freedoms; border security; and energy independence. According to a study by political news website fivethirtyeight.com, Fulcher voted with then-President Trump 95.7% of the time.

Fulcher has refused to debate his opponents this year, drawing condemnation from Peterson, who leads the speech and debate team at the College of Western Idaho, where she is a student. “He always puts politics before country,” she said in a statement. “Refusing to debate is a slap in the face for voters.”

Here is an overview of the three candidates in the race:

Russ Fulcher

Fulcher, 60, worked for Micron Technology for 15 years, rising from production line night shift worker to sales and marketing division manager, then worked in international sales and marketing for Preco Electronics for nine years . In 2006, he became a commercial real estate broker before being elected to Congress in 2018. He holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in business administration from Boise State University.

Fulcher served four terms in the Idaho Senate, representing Meridian from 2006 to 2014 and was elected Majority Caucus Chairman. In 2014, he challenged the then governor. Right-wing Butch Otter in the GOP primary, winning 43.6% of the vote to Otter’s 51.4%.

Fulcher announced another gubernatorial race in 2018, but pulled out after then-1st District GOP Rep. Raúl Labrador entered the race, winning Labrador’s endorsement for his former seat in Congress. Fulcher won a seven-party GOP primary that year with 43.1% of the vote, then won the November election with 62.8% of the vote; in 2020, he was re-elected with 67.8%. He was unopposed in this year’s GOP primary.

Fulcher has faced personal issues in recent years, sustaining serious injuries in a motorcycle accident shortly after the 2018 primary; quietly divorcing his wife of 32 years in September of that year during his first campaign for Congress; and being diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2021, forcing him to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. He temporarily lost his hair, but happily announced in December 2021 that doctors had declared him cancer-free.

Fulcher, in a recent campaign video, said, “In just two years, we’ve seen the damage a Democratic-controlled Congress and presidency can wreak. … I am in the fight to save our country.

Kaylee Peterson

Peterson, 32, is currently a full-time student at the College of Western Idaho in Nampa, double majoring in political science and criminal justice. She was involved in Idaho politics, including running a campaign for state Rep. Sue Chew, D-Boise, before she married and started a family, and chose to stay at home full-time with her two children, now 10 and 5; she and her husband also became adoptive parents.

“Then 2016 came along, and I saw a real shift in the way people viewed politics,” she said. “It became divisive, and no one was really happy with what was going on around them. That’s when I decided to go back to school and get my degree so I could get into public policy.

Peterson said she decided to run for Congress because she wanted voters in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, which stretches from Treasure Valley and points south to the Canadian border, to have a choice. “What Russ Fulcher has done with his position for the past four years is unacceptable to me and the people of Idaho,” she said, “so I’ve decided to run.”

At the College of Western Idaho, in addition to leading the speech and debate team, Peterson served as chief of staff for student government, served on several boards of trustees, and organized volunteers through a partnership between the college, Global Gardens and the Idaho office. Refugees.

His family settled in the foothills of North Eagle in the late 1800s; she grew up moving back and forth between Idaho and Connecticut before moving full-time to Idaho when she was 11 years old.

She lists her three main issues as government accountability and transparency, in order to restore public trust in government; access and conservation of public lands; and health care, including mental and physical health care and veterans services.

“My No. 1 goal is to get people back excited and connected to the political process,” Peterson said. “We have to see voter turnout. We need to see people who believe that their government can provide what they need to survive, that they can trust that the government will do what it needs to do to keep our communities safe, to keep our communities safe of our economy.

She said she wanted to “remind people of what government is supposed to be.”

“I think it’s time to bring regular, enthusiastic Idahoans back into our political process,” she said, “and that’s something I can contribute.”

Darian Drake

Drake, 49, just became the Libertarian nominee for the 1st Congressional District seat in September when previous two-time nominee Joe Evans stood down amid a split in the Libertarian Party of Idaho . “I was pushed into that position,” Drake said. “I had thought about it a few years ago, but at this point it was like, well, that’s what happens.”

Drake lived in Idaho for five and a half years after moving from California to Post Falls, and is a former funeral director with a degree in mortuary science.

He lists his main problems as individual rights; “bring our troops back and focus on our country rather than policing the world;” and medical privacy, which he called “the big one.”

“It depends on the decisions you make about your health between you and your doctor,” Drake said, “whether it’s a mandate for vaccinations, whether or not you should have an abortion, or something like that. … It’s nobody else’s business.

He said he favors term limits in Congress because “they’re leeches.”

“We’re in Idaho,” he said. “If there’s no ‘R’ next to my name, I really don’t have a chance.” But he said he hopes enough voters “like my smirk and wit” are enough to consider sending him to Congress.

“We joked that my campaign slogan is (expletive) ’em,” he said. “I would like to go out there and show that ordinary people, average street guys, can do it. You don’t have to have career politicians.

Betsy Z. Russell is Boise Bureau Chief and State Capital Reporter for Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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