Did winter strike Boise six months early?

Chuck Malloy

So, you think this year’s presidential election is between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden. Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher sees it in a different way.

“It’s Trump vs. Trump — the pro-Trump vs. the anti-Trump vote,” Fulcher says. “This election is Trump’s to win and Trump’s to lose, because he can defeat himself.”

Fulcher makes an interesting point.

Make no mistake about it, Trump still has a huge fan club in Idaho. I play golf with a few people who put Trump right up there with the greatest presidents ever. But if the national polls are anywhere close to being accurate, the president is doing a good job of beating himself — and his approval ratings especially drop with his overall handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s no question about where Fulcher and other congressional Republicans (not named Mitt Romney) stand. While they may disagree with some of the president’s tactics, they are Trump supporters all the way.

“If Biden wins, the question is, who will become president? Biden doesn’t have capacity for the job right now,” Fulcher says. “Maybe there will be a switch on the ticket after he selects a vice presidential candidate, I don’t know.”

That probably won’t happen. But there has been speculation that Biden, at age 77, has lost a brick or two mentally. The same has been said of Trump, who is just three years younger. We can hope that debates between the two don’t come off as “drooling banjos.”

Fulcher has other reasons for wanting Trump to win, beyond the obvious GOP ties. Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, is Fulcher’s friend and former House colleague. Having Meadows’ cellphone number on speed dial might come in handy at some point.

Another race that Fulcher is watching is for speaker of the House. If Democrats retain control of the House, and Nancy Pelosi stays on as speaker, Fulcher thinks little will change in the House — and especially if Trump wins reelection. Fulcher says progress in the House has been slowed to a crawl, largely due to Pelosi’s dislike of Trump (and vice versa).

“It has been a raucous couple of years to say the least,” Fulcher said of his freshman term. “In politics, I’ve always tried to act — opposed to reacting to events. But in the last two years, it has been pretty much impossible to do forward thinking. We’ve been through everything from impeachment to a health pandemic to massive social unrest and protests that haven’t been seen since the Vietnam era. Then, there were some Supreme Court rulings that rocked a few people’s worlds.”

On the legislative front, Fulcher doesn’t have much to show for his first two years. He has put his name to about 100 bills, and almost all essentially were dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled House.

“I think only two have any movement,” he said. “For the most part, Congress has been shut down. The speaker has taken on the position of micromanaging every committee, and nothing is getting done.”

So, Fulcher won’t be talking about “bringing home the bacon” for Idaho in his reelection campaign against Democrat Rudy Soto. Instead, Fulcher will have to settle for building a strong working relationship with 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson, who as a senior member of House Appropriations Committee brings home more bacon than Oscar Meyer. Before Fulcher’s arrival, Simpson went more than a decade without an effective working partner from the 1st District.

“There was a wedge between the 1st and 2nd districts for a long time, and I knew that was a gap that needed to close,” Fulcher said. “We don’t always agree, but we work well together.”

A working partnership with Simpson, by itself, creates a promising start for Fulcher in his congressional career.

Malloy is a veteran Idaho journalist and columnist. His email address is ctmalloy@outlook.com

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