I love Idaho and its people. I have traveled to 86 countries, but Idaho always calls me home. The reason is as simple as the promise in freshly planted spring soil: With all its greatness today, Idaho still has the potential to be something more - to become what America was always meant to be.
I hope to bring the knowledge, experience and insights I've gained in public service and private enterprise to bear on ensuring that Idaho is an even better place to live for our children and grandchildren. Leaders have a responsibility to help everyone who is willing to strive for it, achieve the promise of opportunity that defines America. That means ensuring Idaho is a place where ideas turn into solutions, and people and principle matter more than politics and process.
Defending individual rights is a core principle for me. I believe in the sanctity of the social contract that codifies those rights - the Constitution - and my obligation as a citizen to honor and obey its terms. It's imperative that people respect the rule of law as a matter of civic virtue, not resent it as a paternalistic mandate or fear it as government coercion. To that end, government must be limited to its proper role, and I'm committed to resisting attempts to expand its size and scope.
My 30-year career with the J.R. Simplot Co. was about managing growth of the company and its markets while promoting Idaho products and creating jobs. Among the most important lessons I learned was to prepare for growth by living within your means, planning carefully for the future, and taking responsibility for yourself. I believe they apply just as well to the challenges facing Idaho's next governor - challenges like reducing property taxes, improving education, protecting our water and reducing the influence of government in our lives.
I came to value legislative relations during two terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and 14 years as lieutenant governor. The governor must communicate clearly and consistently with the people and the legislative branch. No challenges are too daunting when we work together in the best interest of individuals and the public. My experience in the Idaho House, as president of the Idaho Senate and as acting governor prepared me to lead collaborative, innovative decision-making.
Serving in Congress since 2001 has reinforced my understanding of the public's need for decisive and principled leadership. Meeting the challenges of a vibrant and diverse state is nearly impossible unless people trust their leaders, and trust must be earned every day. Good government must be based on candor that instills trust and integrity that nurtures it.
Experience has taught me the importance of the people most directly influenced by government policies playing a direct role in their development. Constant vigilance is needed to keep the best intentions from being thwarted by rigid bureaucracy and one-size-fits-all regulations - and a flexible, pragmatic yet principled approach to problem solving will be my trademark as your governor.
Submitted for the Primary debate, May 2006