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Idaho Debates: Sen. Crapo pushes back on critiques of his record

Scott Cleveland (left), Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (center) and David Roth (right) debate onstage in October leading up to the general election.
Idaho Public Television
Scott Cleveland (left), Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo (center) and David Roth (right) debate onstage in October ahead of the general election.

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, who is running for a fifth term, joined his opponents on stage for a debate hosted by Idaho Public Television Monday afternoon.

Democratic nominee David Roth, the executive director of the Bonneville Youth Development Council, and Scott “Oh” Cleveland, an independent who owns an investment firm in Eagle, are challenging the incumbent Republican.

Crapo, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, defended his record in Washington and bashed the Biden Administration’s handling of the economy and inflation.

“The solution here is to give the Republican Party and a Republican Senate the control over the agenda so that we don't continue to see Biden, Schumer and Pelosi driving this runaway spending, driving these ‘open borders’ and causing the difficulties that we're all talking about today,” Crapo said.

At a press conference this summer, he said he believed inflation was likely to be the top issue for Idaho voters this election. When asked what he’s done to help lessen the impacts of rising inflation, he said Democrats haven’t allowed those bills to get to the Senate floor.

Cleveland, who, as a lifelong Republican up until a couple of years ago calls himself an “independent conservative,” largely agreed with Crapo on issues such as abortion and election security.

Still, he argued he would be more capable to get things done for Idahoans.

“In my opinion, America is still great, but clearly headed in the wrong direction. And the reason is this: our leaders, including career politicians like Mike Crapo, are failing miserably at serving the best interest of everyday, average Americans,” Cleveland said.

Though Cleveland, too, called out the Biden Administration for “reckless spending,” he also critiqued Crapo’s votes against two bills he said he would have supported: the PACT Act, which expands Veterans Affairs health care benefits for those exposed to toxic burn pits, and the CHIPS and Science Act, which will help Micron expand production of semiconductors in Idaho.

“I would’ve supported that and Senator Crapo did not support that. But, yet, he was gracious enough to show up for the ribbon cutting a few days ago,” Cleveland said.

Crapo argued Sen. Chuck Schumer forced those ‘no’ votes by including more spending in the packages.

“I didn't do it because that's the strategy Chuck Schumer was pushing,” Crapo said.

Roth wasn’t satisfied with that answer.

“That level of refusing to compromise is part of why we have so much obstruction and so little getting done in Washington,” he said.

A single father of two children, Roth said his experiences tackling affordable housing and drug issues in the Idaho Falls community would help him advocate for policies that help working Idahoans.

He also said a loss of individual rights has affected voters he’s talked to.

“I've been traveling around the state, and in every community I reach, I speak to women who are concerned about their future. As a member of the LGBTQ community, I also share fears of what may be next,” he said.

Two others on the ballot for the Senate seat did not join the debate: Ray J. Writz, a Constitution Party candidate, and Libertarian “Idaho Sierra Law.”

Idaho Public Television will broadcast this debate Tuesday at 8 p.m. MT. It is the only one scheduled for Idaho’s congressional candidates, as both incumbent Reps. Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson declined to debate their opponents.

The debates are also available to watch on Idaho Public Television's YouTube channel after they are broadcasted.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.