Conservatives face off in Twin Falls state senate race

Conservatives face off in Twin Falls state senate race
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 6:57 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The Midterm Elections are about a week away, and here in Twin Falls voters will have a choice between two conservative candidates in the District 25 State Senate race, but only one of them is running as a registered Republican.

Twin Falls Eastside Baptist Church pastor Paul Thompson is running as a Constitutional candidate in the District 25 State Senate race. He sees himself as an alternative for voters who are dissatisfied with the current Idaho republican party.

“The Constitution Party we are actually arguing that they are not getting it done. They are still selling us off to federal agencies, big government policies,” Thompson said

Additionally, he said unlike his opponent, Rep. Linda Hartgen, he stands up for the individual rights, liberties, and freedoms of Idahoans, and upholds the state and federal constitution.

“You will find that she generally votes in line with the Democratic Party in relationship to taxes, education, and social issues,” Thompson said.

Hartgen said in response, “To be labeled a RHINO by people who are not in the Republican Party who are constitutionalist is a little disingenuous.”

Additionally, she said she is a lifelong Republican who stands for small government, private property rights, and the constitution. She also stands by her voting record.

“I have reasons for everything I voted for, and if they have called me I told them that. Most of my people are saying, ‘Thank you. You voted the way I wanted you to’,” Hartgen said

When it comes to the issue of election integrity. Thompson said he is for Election Day voting compared to Early Voting, hand-counting ballots, and doing away with ballot drop boxes.

“It’s not so much of restricting voter access. it is as much as securing that voters know there is integrity in the elections,” Thompson said

Hartgen said she want to remind Idahoans this past legislative session numerous bills were passed to strengthen voter integrity and codify what county clerks can already do.

She is a proponent of Early Voting and ballot drop boxes.

“There are a few little tweaks. I guess I would like to see people not be able to coerce people on Election Day at the polls,” Hartgen said.

When it comes to the two questions that Idaho voters will see on their ballots this November, both candidates said they are for the Constitutional Amendment that will allow the Idaho State Legislature to call itself back into session. However, both had a different perspective on the Advisory Question relating to Idaho Governor Brad Little calling the legislature back into session in September. During the special session, lawmakers passed a bill to use the state’s record budget surplus to refund $500 million back to taxpayers, cut ongoing income taxes by more than $150 million, and increase education and student funding by a record $410 million. The Advisory Question asks voters if they approve or disapprove of the state’s actions.

“I do not appreciate what the governor did. I would have voted against that measure had I been elected to that seat, " said Thompson. “Even though some of the money came back to the Idahoan taxpayers. I make the argument all of it should have come home.”

He also said he felt the actions taken should have been part of three different bills and not consolidated down to a single bill.

However, Hartgen said, “I thought it(special session) ran very well. The topics were all congruent. It was all about the money we could spend, the surplus. I do think education needed to get that money. I liked the flat tax.”

Thompson previously ran for office before In 2020 when he lost to Twin Falls Rep. Lance Clow in the District 24 House race. However, if elected he wants to address issues in Idaho’s Public Education System, property taxes, and income taxes.

“I am saying to the citizens of Twin Falls if you want someone who stands for your Republican values then vote for Paul Thompson on the Constitution Party ticket,” Thompson said.

Hartgen who is hoping to switch chambers and fill the shoes of retiring Twin Falls Idaho State Senator Lee Heider said she feels good about her chances.

“I have a ton of supporters, lots of good wishes, but one never knows until after the polls close on the {November] 8th,”Hartgen said.