Sen. Bob Nonini says that had he succeeded in defeating four GOP senators last year, “we probably wouldn’t have a state healthcare exchange like we have now signed into law.”
Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, granted a rare interview to the Coeur d’Alene Press, which was published Sunday.
Asked about his efforts to remove Sens. Dean Cameron of Rupert, Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston and John Tippets of Montpelier, Nonini told the Press:
“My purpose was more of trying to get senators elected that thought the same way I did on education issues, thought the same way I did on taxation issues, thought the same way I did on healthcare issues.
“If we would have had a majority, we probably wouldn’t have a state healthcare exchange like we have now signed into law. The people I was supporting would not have supported the exchange.
“If we could have gotten within a couple of votes on these issues, we could have had effective legislation.”
The Senate votes on two state-run health exchange bills were both 23-12, with Nonini’s four targets voting yes on both bills, Senate Bill 1042 and House Bill 248. The latter was signed by Gov. Butch Otter.
Had just those four votes switched, the margin would have been 19-16, but such a close vote may well have changed the political calculus and threatened passage.
Nonini miscounted his targets, telling the newspaper he campaigned against three, not four, senators. (Nonini also targeted two House members). “As far as those three senators go, we talked, we carried on a professional session, and they have not held any hard feelings,” he said.
That wasn’t precisely the case in late March when Nonini offered a public apology to just one of his six targets, Tippets. At the time, asked whether she wanted an apology, Lodge said, “That’s up to him. It’s his own conscience he has to live with. We’re big people.”