Wednesday, May 29, 2024

OPINION: Manweiler sees path to victory over Bedke

| October 19, 2022 1:00 AM

If Boise attorney Terri Pickens Manweiler wins the race for lieutenant governor, she may be thanking Rep. Pricilla Giddings and the Idaho Freedom Foundation for her victory.

It’s not that Manweiler, a Democrat, is siding with the far right of the Republican Party — because she’s not. But Giddings, fresh from an attack-filled race with House Speaker Scott Bedke, has people of her ilk who view Bedke as a card-carrying RINO. The Idaho Freedom Foundation adds fuel to that fire by giving Bedke a failing grade in its “freedom index.”

So Bedke is vulnerable, especially with the conservative wing of his party. He received just 52 percent of the vote in the primary election, beating Giddings by 10 percentage points. But it showed that nearly half of Republican voters, for whatever the reason, don’t want Bedke as lieutenant governor.

Manweiler isn’t about to start campaigning on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s platform, but she’ll gladly take any votes she can get. She’ll also have generous support from Democrats, along with women who are nervous about abortion laws in the Gem State.

“I’m going to win because since June 24 (the date of Supreme Court ruling putting abortion laws in the hands of the states), 60 percent of all voter registration has been women. Of that 60 percent, 20 percent are women between the ages of 18 and 25.”

Traditionally, those in that age range don’t vote.

Manweiler says that Bedke’s primary race probably was saved by voters who were not necessarily Republicans — in other words, Democratic crossover voters who wanted to keep far-right candidates out. She thinks those voters will be on her side in November, along with pro-choice advocates and people who think that Republicans have been in power for too long.

If the new voters happen to show up on Election Day, she says, “I win handedly.”

That’s a bold prediction, given the success of Republican candidates over the last few decades. But there’s nothing timid about Manweiler in substance, or style. She’s a trial lawyer and a business operator, so being aggressive is part of her job description.

As lieutenant governor, she’d have no direct say about abortion or any other policy issue. But she would be able to state her views on issues, although with more tact than shown by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin.

Up to a few years ago, Manweiler considered herself as a Republican — supporting Little in the primary election and generally siding with GOP’s conservative stands on fiscal issues.

“But in the last five years or so, the party became unwelcome for women and gay people, and my daughter is both,” Manweiler said. “I can’t put an ‘R’ by my name when I can’t stomach the idea of policy being directed at my daughter to marginalize her. I absolutely can’t put an ‘R’ by my name after the big lie.”

So, she became a Democrat.

“For my daughter to have freedom, she’s going to have to leave Idaho and that’s not a fourth-generation Idahoan’s wish for her daughter. I can hold Scott Bedke accountable for this. He’s fighting vehemently against the Department of Justice lawsuit and for a law that doesn’t allow abortions under any circumstance even if she’s dying of complications relating to the pregnancy. So what he’s saying, in addition to taking away freedoms, is that women don’t have a right to live. I take issue with that.”

Manweiler pledges to “restore civility” to the office — meaning Gov. Little could leave the state without worrying about Manweiler imposing ridiculous executive orders. She thinks she could use a combination of statesmanship and sound reasoning to convince legislators to oppose bills that will end up losing in courts. She plans to have a full time employee in the office researching bills and providing guidance.

Of course, that’s all easier said than done in an institution where statesmanship and sound reasoning don’t always apply. And good luck in getting Republican lawmakers to pay attention to “research” coming from a Democrat’s office.

But Manweiler certainly is not lacking for energy in this campaign. Her race could be a test case for the strength of the abortion issue in Idaho, from either side.

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Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at