Otter avoids specifics in ad about state economy

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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's latest television advertisement credits him as the key figure in improving Idaho's economy, but it fails to cite facts proving the claims.

The Spokesman-Review reports ( that the ad features testimony from a real estate broker who says Otter took hard stances and served as a "watchdog."

"Our governor Butch Otter has had a lot to do with us coming out of that downturn," Eagle real estate broker Tracy Kasper says in the ad, which also includes scenes of construction, manufacturing and Idaho landscapes. "He had to make some tough choices. We all did. He took a hard stance and had to be a big watchdog for all industries."

Those claims are extravagant because the ad didn't provide examples of what he accomplished, said Jim Weatherby, a political analyst and emeritus professor at Boise State University.

"I'm not sure the average voter will understand what he's talking about," Weatherby said. "The average voter might say: 'Well, is he a watchdog for me, too?' "

The commercial first began airing in southwest Idaho, but it is expected to run in eastern and northern Idaho eventually.

Otter campaign spokeswoman Kaycee Emery defended the ad, saying it lacked specifics because it's a testimonial piece.

It was designed to give a "real person" a chance to talk about Otter's leadership and "what he's doing to continue building a brighter future," Emery said.

"It's a testimonial ad," she said. "I think that was just her feeling as a small business owner. She felt, very much so, that he's been a watchdog for them. She didn't give specifics."

The ad follows a string of campaign broadcasts where Otter claims Idaho's economy is improving. However, Idaho has struggled to recover since its economy fell further than most states during the recession.

While Idaho is currently seeing faster job growth than many other states, the state continues to fare poorly on personal income, according to a recent U.S. Census survey. Economists often use personal income as a measure of a state's prosperity and overall economic strength.

According to the census bureau, Idaho's median individual income ranks 51st at $27,932 per year. Women's median income is even lower, coming in at $21,908 per year.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,

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