Idaho governor ads heat up, hazy on details

By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press | Posted - Sep. 29, 2014 at 3:11 p.m.



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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho's gubernatorial candidates are honing their campaign messages as election season enters the homestretch. However, as political advertisements increase, not all include details proving their claims.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's political ads have largely focused on his involvement during his past two terms in improving Idaho's economy following the Great Recession.

While Otter's television and online advertisements praise Idaho's decreased unemployment rate, they do not include that Idaho's median income for individuals and women is the lowest in the nation.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff's campaign ads promise he will make education a priority but they haven't provided specifics on what he would change. Instead, his ads largely focus on criticizing Otter's actions and pushing for a change in state leadership.

Here's a closer look at some of the claims from both campaigns' latest ads.

From Otter's radio ad:

"The facts don't lie. Idaho's economy is on a roll."

Otter's ad cites a handful of specific sources naming Idaho as one of the top 10 states for job growth.

However, economists often point to personal income as a measure of overall economic health, an area Idaho has continually ranked low throughout Otter's tenure.

When Otter first took office in 2006, Idaho's per-capita income ranked 42nd in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Eight years later, Idaho's per-capita income ranks 49th.

From Otter's latest television ad:

"Our governor Butch Otter has had a lot to do with us coming out of that downturn."

The ad credits Otter as one of the key players in improving Idaho's economy after the Great Recession but does not list one specific example as to how he did it.

Otter's campaign defended the ad, saying that it was a testimonial piece from a real estate agent and not meant to include details.

From Balukoff's radio ad:

"(Balukoff) helped make his community schools some of the best in the country with high achieving students and more kids going off to college in anywhere else in the state."

Balukoff is president of the Boise School District, which is currently the second-largest school district in the state.

While the district outperformed the rest of Idaho districts in all three categories in last spring's SAT college entrance exam, the district's students dropped nine points to 33 percent in the writing category scores compared to the year before.

In 2013, the district sent little more than 61 percent of their graduates to two-or four- year colleges. The number is above the state's 51 percent average but it's also lower than its 64 percent it achieved in 2012.

From Balukoff's latest television ad:

"Balukoff will make quality schools a priority, so Idaho is no longer at the back of the pack.

Balukoff's main campaign focus has been on improving Idaho's education system but his television ads —along with his online and radio ads— lack specific details how he's going to do it or what he do differently than Otter.

Instead, his ads are often hard to fact check because they don't include statistics or wide claims about one particular issue.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Kimberlee Kruesi

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