A few thoughts on a few, somewhat random, topics...
GOP Candidates Stump Idaho Falls on the 4th. Idaho Falls was the political hot spot on the Fourth of July for Republican candidates running in 2018. All three 2018 GOP candidates for governor – Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Rep. Raul Labrador and businessman Tommy Ahlquist -- hit the large Idaho Falls parade and then each had a speaking role just before the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, the massive (largest west of the Mississippi) annual fireworks display. Also in the parade were two GOP candidates for lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin and former Republican Party chair Steve Yates. I am probably missing other attendees.
I heard a couple of the gubernatorial candidates speak at the Melaleuca event (Labrador and Little). Both performed admirably before a very large crowd (100,000+).
Trade Winds. Some big economic news this last week. Japan and the European Union have forged a free trade deal which will create a free trade zone involving 30% of the world economy and about 40% of all global trade. That will create pressure on the United States to preserve NAFTA or risk putting U.S. companies at a disadvantage. (Of note: Great Britain will likely not benefit from the liberalization with Brexit.)
Idaho’s economy is heavily dependent on international trade, particular Idaho agriculture. How will Idaho businesses and policy leaders navigate this oft-shifting environment? One idea: Utah has been very proactive in the international trade arena with a World Trade Center which is associated with 300 centers worldwide. It is geared towards helping Utah businesses compete globally. Might it be time for one in Idaho?
Labrador’s Immigration Initiatives. Rep. Raul Labrador sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Some years ago, I worked for a congressman who also was a member. Labrador was just appointed chair of the subcommittee that handles immigration issues.
I am intrigued how this role will interplay with his campaign for governor. Labrador is out of the gate with a couple bills, the first boosting U.S. border enforcement and the other restricting refugee settlement. My guess is that neither will help his run much.
But, he told Idaho reporters a couple weeks ago that his next priority is the current guest worker program for farmers. In particular, he wants to tweak the program to meet the needs of dairymen who need year-round workers, not just seasonal ones. That is intriguing. Idaho’s dairymen have been leery of the Trump administration’s rhetoric on immigration in that they are heavily reliant on such for their workforce. Labrador indicates he doesn’t favor allowing current workers who are illegal into the program, at least without leaving the U.S. and reapplying. Will this issue give Labrador cred to reach out to Idaho’s agriculture interests?
Two-Office Thompson? Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Idaho Falls) announced his run for Idaho Falls mayor last week. Of note, he indicated he might continue serving simultaneously in the Idaho House. If so, he wouldn’t be the first to hold two offices at the same time in Idaho. Right now, Sen. Maryanne Jordan (D-Boise) also is a Boise City councilmember. I am curious to see how Idaho Falls voters react.