By Cameron Rasmusson
The race between Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Democratic challenger Kate McAlister for District 1 representative seat A is heating up.
With the weeks dwindling before the Nov. 8 election, the most fiercely contested race in the District 1 general election is bringing in unexpected endorsements, significant donations and reports of aggressive supporters.
In a rare move, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry endorsed McAlister, making her the only challenger it is supporting. According to the Associated Press, the powerful pro-business lobby made the call after evaluating Scott’s voting record, which it deemed “one of the worst” in supporting commerce. IACI political director Zach Hauge told the Associated Press that McAlister’s pro-business record is evident from her time as president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce.
Scott, meanwhile, has racked up coveted conservative endorsements. The Idaho Freedom Foundation, an organization advocating for small government and minimal regulation, has her tied with Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg, for the highest-scoring legislator in its 2016 Idaho Freedom Index. Scott, whose centerpiece legislation of her first term is the permitless concealed carry bill passed in March, is also endorsed by the National Rifle Association.
The tone of the election turned aggressive at the beginning of October when Democrats alleged the harassment of a field operative. According to a complaint sent by the party to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, the unnamed employee claimed he was stalked, harassed and told to “watch his back,” prompting the party to remove him from the county. McAlister also said that an armed Scott supporter badgered her 90-year-old mother-in-law over a “Kate” bumper sticker. On Wednesday, the Idaho Attorney General’s Office announced that the incidents are under investigation.
Other harassment allegations failed to turn up evidence. Last week, an Idaho Democratic Party website post reported claims of “gun-packing militants” who would intimidate non-Scott supporters from attending the candidate’s town hall meetings. This was not the case at Scott’s Oct. 11 meeting held at the Sandpoint Library.
On the other hand, a leaked Oct. 10 newsletter indicates that Scott is mobilizing supporters to dig up information on political opponents. The newsletter asks supporters to write down addresses with Democratic signs so the Scott campaign can “figure out which ‘Republicans’ may really be Democrats in disguise on the voter logs.” It also tells supporters to check in before forwarding the newsletter “to limit tipping our hand.”
To date, Scott has not responded to our or other media outlets’ requests for comment.