“Folks, you have a choice: A cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy. Take your pick.”
That is what Harley Brown, a Republican candidate for governor, told the people of Idaho during a primary debate on Wednesday evening — and it’s an entirely apt description of the situation. Before you’re mistaken, Brown doesn’t consider himself the “normal” candidate in that list. He’s the leather-clad fed-fightin’ biker.
Brown has joined Walt Bayes and state Sen. Russ Fulcher in challenging two-term Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in the GOP primary.
The debate for Idaho governor was so crazy and colorful, we don’t know where to start.
So we will just start from the beginning.
Brown opened by complaining about taxes — nothing unusual for a political debate. He then remarked that “the child is the father of the man” — quoting the poet William Wordsworth — and claimed that after leaving the military, God told him he would one day be commander-in-chief. “Don’t think I’m crazy, because I’m not,” he assured all of Idaho.
Brown was followed by Bayes, who bragged that he was jailed for homeschooling and had 77 descendants. The GOP candidate explained he wanted to become governor so that he could stop abortion, since he didn’t want to follow the Supreme Court to hell.
After the candidates delivered their opening statements, they were questioned about their views on same-sex marriage. Fulcher and Otter both said he opposed discrimination against gay and lesbian people, but insisted they didn’t have the right to marry their same-sex partners.
Fulcher warned that “redefining marriage” undermined the religious freedom of Americans.
Brown had a far more colorful take on the subject. He said he experienced discrimination as a biker, linking the issue to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “We [bikers] are cop magnets like a Playboy bunny wearing a mini-skirt gets hit on all the time,” he explained. His experience as a taxi driver had proven to him that gay and lesbian couples truly loved each other, and therefore should be allowed to be married. His passionate defense of same-sex marriage, however, was cut short by the moderator. “Sorry, I didn’t see the lights going,” he apologized.
Bayes responded to the question by reading a Bible verse, which warned about the “unnatural uses” of our sexual organs and other “unseemly” acts. That was his entire response.
And things got even crazier. Later in the debate, the moderator asked Brown why he posted “bigoted” jokes about woman, gays, Jews, Asians, and Polish people on his campaign website.
Brown told the moderator he made fun of bikers and the Irish, too. The jokes, he explained, were meant to attack the “bondage” of political correctness. “I hit everybody,” he remarked. “I’m about as politically correct as your proverbial turd in a punch-bowl, and I’m proud of it.” He wanted to connect with real voters, not the “bondage” people — who apparently are ignorant about “picking up strangers at night and hauling them God knows where.”
The moderators gave Bayes a chance to pontificate further on his view of abortion. But instead of talking about the issue, he complained that his TV talked to him about homeschooling for hours and he threatened to shoot anyone who tried to take away his children. Bayes said that — like Brown — he didn’t care about political correctness. He finally got around to the issue of abortion, calling it murder, before the moderators moved on.
The issue of wolves was also raised during the debate. Bayes proudly claimed that he killed a wolf while it was still on the Endangered Species List.
But things got really interesting when Bayes was asked about his view on taxation. The candidate said the real problem was that the U.S. government had taken over the land in Idaho. Bayes called on Idaho to take its land back from the federal government and “start using it.”
“Our forests are kind of like someone raising tomatoes,” he explained. “They are pretty, red, don’t pick em. Well, what good is it?”
Brown also said he wanted to take on the federal government. He outlined his plan of attack, which involved himself — “because I’ve got a masters in raising hell” — an actor from a John Wayne movie and a lieutenant governor.
“You go in there and you use spiritual warfare. Everybody talks about the natural, but I’m going to talk about the other realm we exist in. Buying those evil spirits that are behind the feds with the blood of Jesus, the name of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of agreement, the word of God. Take air superiority and then roll in with your tanks on the ground.”
His glorious plan, however, was interrupted by the moderator, who noted that the question was about taxes.
“Well, he brought up the land thing,” Brown replied, pointing to Bayes, “and I coat-tailed on him. Taxes are a drag! I don’t even like to think about it. Fightin’ the feds is more exciting for me.”
Bayes — like some other conservatives — also said he thinks the Democratic Party is harboring communists.
“I honestly think half of the Republican Party is Democrats and half of the Democratic Party is communists,” he said.
Brown and Bayes didn’t disappoint with their closing remarks.
Brown said that after God told him he was going to be president, he got the presidential seal tattooed on his shoulder and launched his presidential campaign. Unfortunately, that campaign got him kicked out of the basement he was living in. Brown showed a note from an alleged prophet that stated the conversation with God was the real deal. He explained he was only running for governor because he needed practice.
Bayes concluded by saying that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 was a sign of the apocalypse. Idaho needed to stock up on potassium iodide to protect themselves from radiation, he remarked.
“My Bible says it’s going to get worse and worse and worse,” he shouted, while banging his podium. “We better get us some.”