Tonight at the 2nd Congressional District Candidate Forum, sponsored by the Idaho State University College Democrats, Craig Cooper officially announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Jim Hansen.
Cooper stated that "there is one person here tonight who has proven experience uniting Idaho's families. That man is Jim Hansen, and I am formally announcing my support for Jim for Congress."
Evidently it wasn't news to a single person in the room-- and all week long it has been chaos trying to plan a debate when you don't know who will be there, who is actually running, and whether or not they actually want to debate. But when all was said and done we had a very honest discussion of the issues, the issues that face Idahoans, the issues that face Congress, and the issues that Jim and Craig have taken solid stands on.
After a long week of phone calls to Boise and Idaho Falls the College Democrats settled on a format with Jim and Craig, though the idea of keeping it a secret didn't last long.
Last night at a house party in Pocatello, Richard Stallings
announced that Craig was dropping out of the race...
and just when we thought those calls to the Hansen campaign were covert, everyone in the 2nd CD already knew.
Surprise or not, it was a wonderful forum. The questions submitted to me by the progressive blogs around the state were asked of both candidates prior to Craig's announcement. Lin Whitworth, who did a wonderful job of moderating the forum, kept track of time and added his two-cents as we went. After tonight I certainly have a higher respect for the men who have run in the second congressional district. It is an unbelievable challenge and one that Richard, Lin, Craig, and Jim certainly understand.
On issues ranging from immigration reform to Representative Simpson's White Cloud Wilderness Bill, Hansen and Cooper answered honestly and directly. Hansen, when asked what the major issue facing Idahoans today is, commented that a lack of health insurance for all is a big worry for Idaho families. The idea that a person is one life-threatening illness or injury away from bankruptcy is very real in Idaho and Hansen said he hopes to address this need when elected to the United States House of Representatives. Jim also supports raising the minimum wage, reaching a level that is a livable wage, and adjusting the minimum wage according to inflation. After Craig spoke on corruption in congress, Jim countered by clearly articulating his strong support of campaign finance reform. He will continue to only take $100 from each donor before the general election. Though I was less impressed with Craig's answer to a question on the importance of the Native American community stating he would not be opposed to eliminating the Bureau of Indian Affairs, I was impressed with Jim's consistent support of Idaho minorities, both the Native American sovereign nations and the Hispanic community that he showed strong support of in his answer on immigration reform.
Questions from the audience ranged from minimum wage to health care and even Lin Whitworth asked a question on earmarking. The forum was an honest and informative discussion of the issues that turned out to be a wonderful event.
Larry Grant, candidate in the 1st Congressional District, got a plug as well. Who says we have to limit ourselves to the 2nd CD? I spoke for a moment on what an excellent candidate Larry is and mentioned the question asked of Mr. Grant over at Students For Grant in regard to war-making and asked the same question of both Jim Hansen and Craig Cooper. After Craig discussed President Bush's wiretapping of American citizens, Jim's answer was simply summarized with one word. Backbone. Hansen stated that each individual and every member of Congress must have a solid understanding of the United States Constitution and must use good judgment and step up to the responsibility they have as representatives of the American people to keep the executive branch in check. As a student who has read the Constitution numerous times in my life, I was satisfied with this answer and nearly as impressed as I was with Larry Grant's answer. It is time for Congress to assume the powers that are rightfully theirs.
A big thank you, from me personally, goes out to Julie, Jill, Jessica, and Diana Rowe-Pauls for their help with the questions and a big thank you to Lin Whitworth for his continued involvement in the Democratic Party. And of course, thank you Jim Hansen and Craig Cooper for coming to Idaho State University and openly addressing the issues.