COEUR d’ALENE — W. Scott Howard is a gold Libertarian in a world of Republican red and Democratic blue.
His campaign to become the Idaho First Congressional District’s next congressman faces the same long odds that third-party candidates usually encounter.
However, a Dan Jones and Associates poll released Sept. 3 showed Howard’s rivals, Republican Russ Fulcher and Democrat Cristina McNeil, at only 35 and 28 percent, respectively. With 10 percent of voters supporting him and with 20 percent still undecided, Howard is thinking positively about his chances.
Howard is a native of Nine Mile Falls, Wash., who moved to Post Falls due to its lower housing costs and better roads. The 39-year-old has worked in information technology for years and specializes in cybersecurity. For fun, he enjoys swimming, hiking, and drones.
Howard came to the Libertarian Party earlier this year after having been a political independent for years. The first-time candidate said he chose to run for office because he believes that “If you see something that needs changing, do what you can to change it.”
Electing the same two parties over and over won’t do the trick, he explained. Running for Congress is his way to avoid the trap that career politicians fall into by perennially moving from one office to the other. He also said that the open seat left by outgoing Rep. Raul Labrador made the congressional race preferable.
Gun rights are Howard’s top issue.
“Currently we allow too many infringements on our gun rights,” he said, noting that he made a campaign pledge to carry his firearm at every speaking engagement he has participated in during the campaign. He has kept it, even at the cost of having to back out of an event that is scheduled to take place in a school gym.
Howard is also strong on term limits and taxes. He favors the former and opposes the latter. Howard said he would prefer to eliminate all current taxes and replace them with a simple, flat sales tax of about 25 percent. He’d allocate half of it to the federal government and the other half to state and local governments.
“It moves the burden of taking people’s money without consent to them knowing there’s going to be this tax when you purchase something,” he said.
Howard said drug use, sexual activity, and abortion ought not be regulated by the government.
“If it’s not hurting anybody, it should be your choice” to use drugs, Howard said.
The candidate added, “I’m for equal rights for anyone to live the way they want to live,” and that since society lacks a consensus definition of when life begins, he does not believe the government should be involved at all in abortion. He noted that he had given people rides to abortion clinics. They always felt guilt afterward, he said.
“But I can’t judge them. They have to live with the consequences of their choice,” said the candidate, who stated that he is not a religious person.
Howard said he supports strong borders and a border wall, as well as “a clear and easy path for citizenship for anybody who wants it. Anybody who wants to be a productive member of society, we welcome you with open arms. We’re a country of immigrants. Join us.”
Howard explained that DREAMers and other illegal immigrants should have a path to citizenship. He also said that he supports limitless legal immigration, even if 1 billion new immigrants came to the United States. Only those who are unproductive or have a documented history of terrorism and crime in their home countries should be barred from entry, he added.
Howard said he supports President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs as a negotiating tool, but only so long as tariffs go away in the long run.
Howard would like to severely reduce foreign aid so long as the U.S. has unmet domestic needs, and would like to bring American troops back from overseas.
He does not see Russia as an enemy or think Russia tampered with American elections. For America to criticize other countries on that count is hypocritical given the U.S. government’s history of meddling overseas, he noted.
Win or lose Nov. 6, Howard said he’s looking ahead.
“If I don’t win this one, I’ll be back in 2020. I believe in what I’m doing.”
Despite polling in the double digits, he was excluded from the Idaho Debates held in Boise. He personally answers all messages and calls to his campaign.
“Ultimately I’m running for an office to represent the people of western Idaho, so my door is open,” Howard said.