BOISE (AP) — A conservative lawmaker from Meridian says he filed paperwork Saturday to begin raising money for a possible challenge against Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2014 Republican primary.
Senate GOP Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher cites Otter's decision to establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act as a motivating factor.
"By the next election, Gov. Otter will have already served two terms in office, and I am concerned that he has lost touch with the will of the people of Idaho," the 51-year-old Fulcher said in a written statement to the Idaho Statesman. "His regrettable decision to voluntarily thrust Idaho into Obamacare exemplifies this."
Otter, 71, has yet to formally announce his campaign plans, but he's been raising money and telling supporters he intends to seek a third term. In August, he named veteran political organizer Jayson Ronk as his 2014 campaign manager.
Appointing Ronk also cements Otter's footing with the established, pro-industry and deep-pocketed wing of Idaho's Republican Party.
Fulcher is a former Micron executive now in the commercial real estate business. He opposed the state exchange, contending it meant Idaho surrendered its sovereignty to "the federal puppeteer."
"From listening to citizens from across the state to meeting with key community activists, I plan to take this time to seek wise counsel and determine if I am the right person to help Idaho grow while preserving its rich heritage and traditions," he said in the statement. "I am confident that should I run, I would be well-positioned to win, especially with the help of qualified staff and the assistance of the grassroots community."
He said he told Otter on the phone on Thursday about his plans. The No. 4 Republican in the Senate, Fulcher said he spoke to other Republican leaders and also wrote all 27 of his GOP colleagues.