Gov. Butch Otter will not take part in a statewide televised debate, scheduled for May 18.
The explanation, as outlined in a letter this week: Only two of Otter's five GOP opponents were invited to debate.
Debate sponsors -- which include Idaho Public Television, the League of Women Voters, the Idaho Press Club and media groups including the Statesman --
invite only candidates who provide evidence of an active campaign. Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman and Rex Rammell of Rexburg were the only
candidates to meet the criteria. (Disclosure: I was one of several people who helped review materials from the campaigns).
Otter joins senior Sen. Mike Crapo as debate no-shows this year. The difference is, Crapo turned down the debate because he believed his sole GOP
opponent, Skip Davis of Weiser, is not actively campaigning.
I guess there's always a reason.
The Ullman-Rammell debate will go on as scheduled, at 8 p.m. It will air on Public TV, and will take place at Capitol Auditorium at the Statehouse. You
can attend -- even if Otter won't.
Here is Otter's letter to Elinor Chehey of the League of Women Voters:
I write today to respectfully decline your invitation to participate in the Idaho 2010 Primary Gubernatorial Debate co-sponsored by Idaho Public
Television, the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters and various media groups.
It should not be surprising that I disagree with your criteria, looking for proof of an active campaign in order for each candidate to participate in
the debate. As a publicly funded institution, IPTV should be expected to set a higher standard, allowing all Idaho citizens access to a public
debate. Six Republican candidates met the deadline set forth in Idaho law and filed paperwork to run for the office of Governor. All should have been
invited to attend, regardless of whether a group determines them not qualified to participate.
I've met some of my Primary opponents at Lincoln Day festivities around the state during the past two months. Each of us had ample opportunity to get
voters acquainted with our issues and priorities. I will continue to meet with constituents as Governor and maintain an active campaign separate and
apart from official business as I hear directly from the people about their challenges, their hopes and their fears.