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Democratic Lt. Governor hopeful wants to restore ‘integrity’ and ‘courage’ in state politics

East Idaho Elects

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IDAHO FALLS – Since she announced her candidacy for Lt. Governor in August, Terri Pickens Manweiler has been surprised at the response from Idaho voters.

The Pocatello native and Boise attorney is running as a Democrat and during a campaign stop in Idaho Falls, she spoke with and said she’s surprised with how well the reception has been, given her political affiliation.

“Idaho is a very conservative state. Eastern Idaho is also very conservative. I grew up in a family of Republicans. I was a Republican for the longest time and I switched parties in 2016 and I thought I would be challenged a little more because of that reaffiliation,” Manweiler explains.

Manweiler says the main reason for switching parties stemmed from her dissatisfaction with the way conservatives were addressing issues that were important to her. One of those issues is public education, which she feels has been largely ignored by the Republican party and she “fundamentally disagrees” with them on how education should be funded.

Another reason for switching parties has to do with increasing hostility in state politics and “how far-right Idaho has become.”

“I really wanted to bring people back to the middle, back to the table where I’m used to sitting. I always considered myself to be a moderate Republican and I genuinely believe that Idaho is made up of mostly moderate Republicans. I feel like we’ve been disenfranchised,” she says.

terri pickens manweiler
Terri Pickens Manweiler discussing her platform during an interview with | Rett Nelson,

‘A much more qualified and … efficient leader’

Manweiler, a graduate from the University of Southern California, University of Idaho College of Law, and a founding partner in Pickens Law, P.A since 2008, is one of three candidates vying for Lt. Governor and the only one running on the Democratic ticket.

Her opponents on the Republican side are Rep. Scott Bedke of Oakley and Rep. Priscilla Giddings of Whitebird, who was the focus of an ethics investigation last summer for sharing an article on social media that identified an alleged sexual assault victim.

RELATED | Local legislators react to Giddings’ behavior during ethics hearing

Regarding her opponents, Manweiler feels they have not adequately represented their constituents and have demonstrated poor leadership over the last year.

“There’s no question in my mind that I have the integrity and the statesmanship to be a much more qualified and … efficient (leader). (Giddings) would use the office for what her predecessor would use it for — political theater,” Manweiler says. “Some of the actions and behavior she has displayed are indefensible.”

She feels Bedke has no political courage because “he lost control of his own caucus” amid the state’s longest legislative session in history.

RELATED | Local lawmakers explain why they aren’t in Boise for a special session

“(The House) took over and were able to get some of the worst legislation passed, much of which is getting challenged through the courts. It wasted a bunch of taxpayers’ money on issues that Idahoans don’t care about,” Manweiler says.

RELATED | Bedke: Legislators prepping for action on vaccine mandate starting Monday

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As a fourth-generation Idahoan, Manweiler says she is proud to call the Gem State home and is not looking to “come in and rock the boat.” For voters who feel disenfranchised or are reluctant to vote for a Democrat, Manweiler says she is the right choice for Lt. Governor because she “genuinely cares about Idaho.”

Preserving public lands is another thing she is passionate about and she feels her 23 years of experience as a trial lawyer qualify her to address it and many other issues.

“The skill of advocacy is really important. If you’re going to have a platform and have people respect your voice and hear what you have to say, you have to know how to say it. The skills and training I’ve received as a lawyer have been invaluable,” she says.

Though there are a lot of Idaho legislators drafting bills, Manweiler points out none of them are attorneys. She cites “exorbitant fees” the state is paying for litigation surrounding “unconstitutional” legislation.

As an attorney, she knows the law and how it can be applied. Even though she won’t be able to veto bills as Lt. Governor, she says she’ll be able to offer valuable insights and suggestions to the Governor and the legislative process.

“Taxpayers … are really tired of footing the bill,” Manweiler says. “If you have a lawyer at the table … we might be better served.”

RELATED | Gubernatorial candidate Ed Humphreys says people who want something ‘radically different’ should vote for him

There are currently 11 gubernatorial candidates, three of which are Democrats. A primary is scheduled for May 17. The general election is Nov. 8.