Vaughn Ward won't say it. But the facts do.
The 1st Congressional District candidate has flip-flopped on repealing the 17th Amendment — and thus returning the election of U.S. senators to state legislatures.
“I’m not changing the position, I’m clarifying, would be a better way to put that,” Ward told Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review Monday.
On the April 30 edition of "Idaho Reports," Ward couldn't have been much clearer. After Eagle state Rep. Raul Labrador advocated the repeal of the 17th Amendment, Ward joined in assent, saying the amendment represented a step in the erosion of states' rights. Video below (the 17th Amendment comes up at the 13:40 mark):
Sometimes, on live TV, candidates get confused — or fail to explain themselves fully. But in filling out a Tea Party questionnaire, when Ward and his campaign presumably had time to sort out positions, Ward favored a repeal of the 17th.
Positions evolve during a campaign. That also happens. During that same "Idaho Reports" appearance, I asked Ward and Labrador whether they supported the policing language in Arizona's new immigration law, and neither candidate said one way or the other. On Monday, 10 days after the fact, the Ward campaign issued a news release hailing Arizona's law.
Playing to the mood of the moment? Maybe. But there is certainly a say-anything tone to Ward's flip-flop on the 17th Amendment. After both candidates have received some well-deserved flak, Ward has retreated.
Labrador has stayed firm. Faint praise there. On this issue, non-Tea Party Republicans have a bad choice: Pick a candidate who has played (albeit consistently) to this constituency, or pick the flip-flopper.
Debate (and live blog) tonight: Tune in on Idaho Public Television tonight at 8 p.m., for the Ward-Labrador debate. Should be a good one. I will be at the Statehouse live blogging the debate, and I hope to get some questions from you.