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Politics & Government

Top GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Focus On Vision In Second Debate

Otto Kitsinger
AP Images
Republican Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist, from left, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, participate in a debate at the studios of Idaho Public Television in Boise, Idaho, April 23, 2018.

Idaho's top Republican governor candidates gave voters three distinct options to choose from during their second televised debate Monday on Idaho Public Television, which included plenty of jabs at each other's campaign tactics. The three candidates sparred over education, taxes, health care and social issues.U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, a four-term congressman, pushed his aggressive economic plan to cut nearly $1 billion of the state's taxes, or roughly 30 percent of the state's annual general fund budget. And Labrador reiterated his conservative principles as a member of the Freedom Caucus.

He says he would keep a controversial state law that protects parents who don’t seek medical treatment for their children because of religious reasons, known as faith healing.

“I would not change it at all," he says. "I think that’s one of the good things about Idaho; we believe in freedom.”

Boise developer and former emergency room doctor Tommy Ahlquist said he would apply a business model in order to find and eliminate wasteful government spending, as well as bring fresh ideas to a state that has long been run by the political establishment. The political newcomer of the three candidates on stage, Ahlquist did his best to avoid a question by Idaho Public Television moderator Melissa Davlin about whether or not he would support a bill to punish women who seek abortion.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little maintained that Idaho was on the right path to continue growing and attracting new businesses, but his experience working with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the Idaho Legislature was needed to ensure the state's future success. Little wants to raise the minimum teaching salary to $40,000, arguing that this will attract and retain Idaho teachers, which he says will help increase the state’s low college graduation rate.

“We have to send that signal far and wide that we value our educators," Little says,  "[that] we value our teachers and we want the best and the brightest to get into the classroom.”

Idaho’s closed Republican primary is May 15.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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