Election Central

Berch accuses Luker of ‘borrowing a page’ from Mark Patterson playbook

West Boise Democrat Steve Berch is accusing four-term GOP Rep. Lynn Luker of engaging in the “same public avoidance tactic” employed by former GOP Rep. Mark Patterson in the 2012 campaign.

Luker’s offense? Not completing the Idaho Statesman’s voter guide for the May 20 primary.

Both Luker and Berch are unopposed in the primary, but only Berch completed the survey questions. In answer to seven policy questions, Luker wrote, “No primary opponent – will defer to general election.” But Luker did provide biographical information and replied “no” to two questions about any criminal record or bankruptcies.

Luker’s promise to answer the questionnaire for the fall campaign was a route chosen by a number of unopposed candidates.

“Mr. Berch continues to use exaggerated commentary to attempt to create issues which do not exist,” Luker replied to Berch’s charge. “Voters will have the opportunity to consider that as well in making their choice in November.”

Added Luker:  “I think the voters should focus on the primary election at hand. It is no secret that I am a fiscally conservative, limited government Republican, who attempts to take a pragmatic approach to issues.  That is reflected in my voting record, which is open to the public.”

Berch took on Luker in a news release last week headlined, “Lynn Luker Dodges Questions and Accountability to West Boise Voters.”

The release was distributed with an email subject line connecting Luker to Patterson, who declined to answer the Statesman questionnaire in 2012 when he did have an opponent. “Lynn Luker borrows a page from Mark Patterson’s campaign playbook,” wrote Berch.

Patterson, under pressure from District 15 Republicans, resigned in January after news that he had pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in 1974.

In an interview, Berch said he wasn’t calling out all unopposed candidates who took a pass in the primary but vowed to complete the questionnaire for the Nov. 4 general election.

But Berch said Luker is denying voters important information screened by an independent, third party.

“There are so few opportunities,” Berch said. “I don’t necessarily say, therefore, everyone must fill out this questionnaire. But, for me, you want to take advantage of every opportunity. The questions is: why is my opponent not taking this opportunity?”

Continued Berch: “To me, this is the same stuff that Patterson did. You basically ride the (Republican) letter next to your name. The less you say, the less chance you give your opponent a chance to challenge you or to get caught up in your own words. So you’re better off not saying anything.”

Berch’s April 28 news release and Luker’s email response appear below, in full:

Berch:

Lynn Luker Dodges Questions and Accountability to West Boise Voters

Berch to hold six District 15 Town Hall meetings a year if elected

April 28, 2014, BOISE, IDAHO – Eight-year incumbent Republican Lynn Luker refused to answer the recent Idaho Statesman questionnaire made available to all Idaho legislative candidates. This is the same public avoidance tactic used in 2012 by his running mate, Mark Patterson, who also refused to answer questions and declined public appearances. Patterson subsequently resigned in disgrace after just one year in office when numerous troubling allegations eventually came to light.

Steve Berch, Mr. Luker’s Democratic Party opponent for West Boise House Seat 15A, commented on Luker’s silence: “Voters want to know where their Representative stands on the issues. Mr. Luker has apparently decided that he doesn’t need to answer any questions until shortly before the November election, if at all. As District 15 Representative, I will never take the voters for granted. I will actively engage and communicate with my constituents, not ignore them. I will hold district Town Hall meetings at least six times a year, including once a month while the legislature is in session. A Representative who doesn’t listen to his constituents winds up only representing himself. Maybe that’s why after eight years in office Mr. Luker now feels comfortable sponsoring his ‘Freedom to Discriminate’ laws, which are clearly out of touch with the values and priorities of District 15 voters.”

Berch added that refusal to answer questions and avoid public scrutiny is typical of too many career politicians and reflects the kind of out-of-touch behavior that has led Idaho family incomes to be among the very lowest in the nation.

In contrast to Mr. Luker, Berch answered all the questions on the Idaho Statesman questionnaire, which can be found at: http://c3.thevoterguide.org/v/statesman14/race-detail.do?id=12967245. People can learn more about the Steve Berch campaign and ways to support his effort to unseat Luker by visiting www.berch4idaho.com.

About Steve Berch:

Steve Berch has lived in West Boise District 15 for 33 years, starting when he moved to Idaho in 1981 to work for the Hewlett Packard Company. In May 2013, Steve was elected by voters in District 15 and the greater Boise area to serve on the Board of Directors of the Greater Boise Auditorium District. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 31 years and have a daughter, Katie, who attends Centennial High School.

 

Luker’s April 28 email:

Dan, as you know, I did not refuse to answer the survey.  Rather, as indicated in my response to the survey, since I do not have a primary opponent, I deferred until the general election. In the past the Statesman has not requested surveys from those without a primary.  I think the voters should focus on the primary election at hand.  It is no secret that I am a fiscally conservative, limited government Republican, who attempts to take a pragmatic approach to issues.  That is reflected in my voting record, which is open to the public.  On the other hand, Mr. Berch represents a different end of the political spectrum.  So, I don’t think there is any big surprise for voters about what direction they will be choosing in voting for me or my opponent.   Mr. Berch continues use exaggerated commentary to attempt to create issues which do not exist.  Voters will have the opportunity to consider that as well in making their choice in November.

 

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics