Republican challenger thinks District 26 race will be close with a high voter turnout

Incumbent thinks the Democratic district has a good thing going
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 1:17 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The District 26 race for House Seat B is a battle between a lifetime educator who is also a Democrat and the incumbent and a Republican businessman from California.

Sally Toone of Gooding is the Democrat incumbent for House Seat B in District 26, and she feels like she has accomplished a lot in her two terms as the district representative.

“I was able to work on a medical and ambulance access bill for Lincoln County. Lincoln County is one of nine ambulance districts in the state of Idaho that doesn’t have a hospital in its district,” Toone said."I have also updated Idaho’s “Samaritan Law”.

However, in her reelection bid, Toone is talking about what the Gem State needs to do for middle-class families.

“Our state has so much to offer and right now I can’t honestly say the young people have those opportunities to stay in Idaho. We are losing them to jobs out of state,” Toone said.

She said Idaho is one of the lowest-paid states in the union for wages, and she doesn’t believe that $7.25 at the federal level is a “realistic goal" for families.

“We have priced some of our housing out of reach for young families. We have to raise wages. It does not mean we have to mandate it,” Toone said.

She said she would also like to see programs in place so Idaho can develop a skilled workforce, and bring in new business while offering high paying jobs to its citizens.

“We have a pretty good thing here in Twin [Falls] with Chobani and Cliff Bar, but Chobani struggled for a long time finding a skilled workforce. We have to bring businesses to Idaho,” Toone said.

The lifetime educator said another goal for her if reelected is making sure the state follows through on its salary schedule for teachers.

“We have waited seven years to fund the teachers that have given 20 to 25 years, and I really do want to see their salaries meet what we promised them in 2013 finally get there,” Toone said. “There was an opportunity this year, but unfortunately with the cutbacks, it didn’t happen”.

District 26 is one of six districts in the state that is entirely represented by Democrats, and Toone’s Republican challenger Bill Thorpe said it’s time for a change and some diversity in the district.

“There are an awful lot of Republicans out there (District 26), and I think Republicans need to be represented in District 26,” Thorpe said.

The Republican businessman moved to Idaho from California, and he said one of the reasons he is running is because he wants Idaho to remain a “Red State”, and he is concerned about what is happening in the state legislature with the Democrats.

“I saw a story about how we need to get illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. Well in California that was the start, and it went from there,” Thorpe said.

He also talked about Gov. Brad Little’s “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which in March made Idaho the first state to bar transgender female athletes from participating in women’s sports. This Summer a federal district judge issued an injunction blocking the law, and the judge’s ruling is currently being appealed. Thorpe supports the appeal.

“I think that is very cut and of the three democrats(District 26) said that is a ‘waste of money’. I don’t think it’s a waste of money,” Thorpe said. “There are things that we need to draw lines in the sand in. I don’t want to have 52 genders in Idaho like they do in California”.

However, Toone believes some Republicans are trying to draw a line between Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives. She said “80 percent of the bills” in the state legislature are bipartisan, and voters should focus on individuals and issues, instead of party affliction and what letter is next to a candidate’s name on the ballot.

“I don’t know, maybe we(Democrats) have warts on our nose and horns, but they(Republicans} have a mental image of somebody else. Let’s talk Idaho. We (Democrats and Republicans) are not that far apart,” Toone said.

The two candidates have some slight differences of opinion when it comes to the state’s response to COVID-19 and the use of Idaho’s Rainy Day Fund and $100 million budget surplus, but the big area of contention between the two is Second Amendment rights.

Toone believes education and training should be part of owning a firearm.

“If I have to have a hunters course to shoot a deer who isn’t shooting back, I can pull a gun on another human being with no training. I struggle with that,” Toone said.

However, Thorpe who is a firm believer in the constitution likes the law the way it is written.

“I don’t want it infringed upon, and I think once you start down that path it becomes more and more that we are restricting than allowing people to own firearms,” Thorpe said.

The Republican candidate said he thinks his biggest obstacle this election will be voter turnout, and he said that if he can get the Republicans to turn out in significant numbers he thinks we can win. Thorpe said he is also not concerned about being an out-of-state candidate.

“Most of the people I know coming from California are conservatives. They tend to own companies, and they are just tired of being taxed to death,” Thorpe said.

But Toone believes she and her Democratic colleagues have a good thing going in District 26, and voters should give them their support.

“We work as a team. We all have our strong suits. Rep. [Muffy] Davis is our healthcare person. I am an educator. Senator [Michelle] Stennet natural resources is her strong point. I think we cover the gamut of issues,” Toone said.

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