Though I did not win the legislative house position, I did win a big appreciation for the whole process. I also realize that many opportunities will open up because of this. I want to thank everyone that was involved in helping. I want to congratulate Priscilla for winning the 7A position. We will have redistricting by the 2-year period when elections come up again. I am at this point in time considering running. And again thank you everyone for your vote. I will still be more active than ever than I have been politically. I want things better for all of us in rural Idaho.
By William L. Spence Of the Tribune
Orofino chiropractor Dennis Harper takes on two-term incumbent Rep. Priscilla Giddings in the May 19 Republican primary race for Idaho’s 7th Legislative District House A seat.
Harper, 63, initially filed for the House B seat, after longtime Rep. Paul Shepherd announced he wouldn’t run for another term in office. However, when it got to the final day of the candidate filing period and no one had filed for the House A seat, he switched his paperwork.
“I didn’t intend to challenge an incumbent,” Harper said. “I just thought it was crazy to leave an open seat.”
Giddings, 36, filed for reelection later that day, putting the two on a collision course.
No Democrats filed for the position so, barring a write-in challenge, the winner of the primary will go on to represent the 7th District in Boise for the next two years. The district includes Idaho, Clearwater and Shoshone counties, as well as a small corner of Bonner County.
Harper grew up in northern California, but moved to Idaho 40 years ago. He chose Orofino as the location for his chiropractic business because he loves to hunt and fish.
Although he’s never run for public office before, he has a reasonable understanding of what’s involved. He served on the Idaho State Board of Chiropractic for 12 years, working on legislation and rules. He’s also served on the legislative affairs committee for the Orofino Chamber of Commerce for about 15 years, and has worked with state and federal agencies on issues involving natural resource development and Dworshak Dam and Reservoir operations.
He served as a substitute lawmaker as well, filling in temporarily several years ago for then-state Sen. Skip Brandt.
“I think I bring enough knowledge base to be realistic about the job,” Harper said.
That said, he’s running for office because he’s “frustrated” with certain land management and natural resource decisions, as well as with public education and with the way health care operates in Idaho.
For example, he supports greater access to timber resources and feels wolves have had a highly negative impact on regional elk populations.
On the health care front, he’d like Idaho to ease its “standard of care” requirements — similar to what California and Alaska have done — so doctors and patients can pursue treatment options outside of the traditional norms without getting into trouble with regulatory boards.
And as Idaho and the nation struggle with the medical and economic effects of the coronavirus, Harper said, having someone else in the Legislature with health care expertise will be particularly critical in the coming year.
“I’ve always felt I needed to make a difference in the world,” Harper said. “And I’m willing to put my money (and time) where my mouth is, when I’m serious about something.”
Giddings said she’s running for reelection to “keep up the fight.”
“We have 70 members in the Idaho House, including 14 Democrats and 56 who call themselves Republicans,” she said. Of the Republicans, “28 are fairly progressive, while 28 are more conservative. If we get more conservative Republicans, we can stop more big-spending, progressive ideas from moving forward. So now it’s more important than ever to keep up the fight.”
As a member of the Air Force Reserves, she’d like to continue her work on veteran issues, as well as on health freedom.
Last session, for example, she introduced legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from doing business with companies that discriminate against workers who refused to be vaccinated for any illness or disease. The bill was introduced, but never received a committee hearing.
As a member of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, Giddings also pushed to repeal the 6 percent state sales tax on groceries. The move ran against the wishes of House Republican leadership, who supported an alternative plan to increase the grocery tax credit.
Overall, she said, “I don’t think (Harper’s) and my voting would be all that different. We’re pretty equal.”
Harper agreed, saying he supported Giddings when she first ran for office.
“I agree with her morals and ethics,” he said. “I just don’t know if she’s been as effective as she could be. She’s burned some bridges.”
Giddings acknowledged that she and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, “locked horns” almost from her first day in the Legislature.
However, she believes that has led to a “more professional” working environment, in which at least some conservative bills are allowed to work through the legislative process, rather than being quashed by leadership or committee chairmen.
“I think I’m one of the most effective at engaging with leadership to bring back conservative principles,” she said. “And until we get over 28 members, we’re not going to get past (the progressive chairmen), so there’s no way to really measure effectiveness.”
While some might suggest more could be accomplished through “honey” and cooperative relationships, Giddings prefers to “turn up the pressure” on those who don’t support her brand of conservatism.
“From a conservative Republican perspective, the state and country are too far gone to still be using honey,” she said. “You can’t fix a socialist trend by being nice.”
Giddings believes she’s the best choice for District 7 voters because “I’m the only legislator in that building who will provide detailed information about the inner workings and gamesmanship and excessive spending that’s going on.”
“I try to hold people accountable by exposing (such issues),” she said. “That takes a lot of time and effort. I don’t know if Dr. Harper will be able to provide the same information.”
Harper said his expertise in the health care arena, as well as his community involvement, give him the edge.
“I feel a real calling to do this, so we can make a difference,” he said. “It’s not a matter of surrendering our values; it’s about finding consensus and accomplishing things for the district.”
Given the public safety concerns about spreading the coronavirus, the May 19 primary will be conducted entirely by absentee ballot.
That means anyone who wants to vote in the election must fill out an absentee ballot request form. Requests can be submitted online at idahovotes.gov/vote-early-idaho; alternatively, people can print out the form and return it by mail or in person at their local county elections office.
The requests must be received by 8 p.m. May 19. The ballots themselves must be returned by June 2 at 8 p.m., at which time the votes will be tabulated.
Spence may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 791-9168.
By William L. Spence Of the Tribune
Dennis Harper DC is
asking for your vote!!
Please vote by absentee ballot!!!
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3! #VoteEarlyIdaho – idahovotes.gov
Monday March 30, 2020
Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney announced today there will be no change in Idaho’s primary election date of May 19….. but please note, there may be additional changes to the primary as far as timing, so please check idahovotes.gov often!
The election will be conducted by mail pursuant to the existing laws for absentee voting due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus.
The move is necessary after it became clear that sufficient polling places and poll workers could not be obtained for the election.
The Governor and Secretary of State will work with the Attorney General and the clerks of Idaho’s 44 counties to refine the absentee voting process for these unique circumstances, including setting appropriate deadlines for registering to vote, requesting a ballot be sent to your home, and returning the ballot.
Governor Little will issue a proclamation addressing the election in the coming days.
“While the coronavirus situation may change how we practice our right to vote in this primary election, it is important to keep our election dates in place,” Governor Little said. “I urge all voting Idahoans to request their absentee ballots as soon as possible so they can vote from home this year,” Governor Little said.
“Voting absentee is the right thing to do under these circumstances, and my office has already set up a website that allows Idaho voters to register and request an absentee ballot,” Secretary Denney said.
Idahoans can request an absentee ballot at https://idahovotes.gov/vote-early-idaho/.
“We all hope Idaho’s situation with coronavirus will improve before election day on May 19, but decisions cannot wait. Governor Little is making the right call to conduct the election by mail. It is important for all Idaho citizens of voting age to request an absentee ballot and fully exercise our precious right to vote. This is our chance to show the world that, even under difficult conditions, our American values are alive and well,” Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said.
“Voting is one of our most basic rights as American citizens, and it is important that Idahoans continue to exercise this right this year by voting absentee,” House Speaker Scott Bedke said.
“Idaho’s county clerks appreciate the move to absentee to keep voters and poll workers safe. We are prepared to carry out this election and ensure the people of Idaho can exercise their right to vote,” said Kristina Glascock, Twin Falls County Clerk and president of the Idaho Association of County Recorders and Clerks.