The role of lieutenant governor in Idaho is a tricky one. The power of the position is largely dependent on the lieutenant’s relationship with the governor. If the relationship is good and the trust is strong, the lieutenant can sway policy and act as an effective sounding board for the governor. If it’s not, the lieutenant’s power is minimal.
With former Lt. Gov Brad Little running for governor, several Republican candidates came out of the woodwork for lieutenant, including Sen. Bob Nonini from Coeur d’Alene, Sen. Marv Hagedorn from Meridian, and Rep. Kelley Packer from McCammon. But our pick for lieutenant governor is former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates.
In addition to Yates’ experience as chairman of the Republican Party — which included trying to unite the party after a disastrous 2014 Republican convention in Moscow — he also served as Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2005.
Yates is well-educated, well-traveled and flexible. He will do a fine job no matter who is elected as governor.
Both Nonini and Hagedorn, on the other hand, have put themselves in positions that make us question their judgment.
Nonini, an ardent pro-lifer, had to defend himself against the Associated Press’ report that he agreed women who have abortions should be punished with the death penalty, and in January, he apologized to fellow lawmakers for making an inappropriate comment during an anti-sexual harassment training.
During a lieutenant governor debate hosted by Idaho Public Television earlier this month, Hagedorn blindly accused Yates, without evidence, of stolen valor because he served in the Department of Defense but did not serve in the military.
There is little to dissuade us from Packer, but she is still relatively new to the statehouse, as she was first elected in 2012.
Yates, on the other hand, was more than a decade removed from first obtaining a position in the White House by 2012. He has experience serving as second-in-command in the early 2000s, and also in uniting the party, which appeared destined to fracture beyond repair in 2014.
Yates understands the importance of local control, especially in education. The state, he told the Times-News, should be “bashful” about statewide mandates, and should defer to local communities to decide what mix of blue- and white-collar job training they offer to students. On healthcare, he touted truth in pricing and the benefits of allowing groups to create their own risk pools.
Yates has shown his dedication to the country, the state of Idaho and the Republican Party. No matter who his next boss is, Yates is the best choice for lieutenant governor.