Sunday, January 16, 2022

Malek takes one for the team

| December 1, 2021 1:00 AM

Luke’s time will come.

Luke Malek, a Coeur d’Alene attorney and state representative from 2012-2018, announced a year ago his candidacy for Idaho lieutenant governor. He would have made a great one.

With a successful law office in Boise and his proven political chops, Malek wasn’t an outlier from the far-right North with no chance to win. Respected for his strong conservatism tempered with an abundance of common sense and youthful energy — Malek is only 40 — the future remains bright even after Luke dropped out of the race last week.

Malek took one for the team, and we don’t mean the Republican Party. We mean the state of Idaho. He clearly understood that he and fellow challenger Scott Bedke would split the vote among rational Republicans, leaving Priscilla Giddings to potentially lasso every vote from far right party participants. And that was the deal killer.

“More than ever, Idahoans must focus carefully on the character and qualifications of political candidates,” Malek said in a statement, pointing at Giddings without actually naming her. “Extremist politics has divided our state, wasted our hard-earned tax dollars on divisive lawsuits that stand no chance of success, rejected common sense education funding that is crucial to our present and future economy, and discounted and demeaned the role and the value of trained law enforcement, our first responders, and our health care workers. Extremist politics threaten everything Idahoans hold dear.”

Giddings and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, he’s talking about you.

With Malek out, Bedke, the House Speaker and a conscientious public servant, is the antithesis of what Giddings and McGeachin represent. Bedke is open, honest and never forgets that he serves all Idahoans. Giddings and McGeachin are darlings of the extremists Malek referenced because they’ve sold out, lock, stock and barrel, to the state’s conspiracy-fueled groups.

Before you shrug off the McGeachin-Giddings ticket as so wildly unpopular they’ve got no chance, look back no further than 2018. In the Republican primary that year, McGeachin received just 28.9 percent of the vote. Fewer than one out of every three GOP voters supported her, yet she ascended to the second highest office in the state because the vote was split among five candidates.

The 2022 race was beginning to look perilously like its predecessor until Malek bowed out.

The guess here is that Malek will again emerge and seek his niche as a Gem State leader. His sacrifice now should not be forgotten then.

Idaho owes you one, Luke.

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