Gubernatorial candidates weigh in on health care, Idaho Legislature and marijuana

Posted at 4:12 PM, Nov 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-17 18:12:20-05

GOP gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Brad Little, R-Idaho, and Tommy Ahlquist sat down with Six On Your Side to discuss their platforms and vision for Idaho. 

Little and Ahlquist said they are focused on furthering education and the economy, and they agree there's room to improve the health care system in the state.

"We have got to figure out a way to lower those premiums in the State of Idaho," Ahlquist said. "I would love to get block grants back here for Medicaid. We could take care of Medicaid. We would do a much better job as a state than the federal government." 

"I wish Congress would act, but there's a pathway going forward, and we're going to provide more products, much more affordability, and we have to do that in an urgent manner," Little said.

Little said his history in the Statehouse proves he can work with the Legislature to enact an agenda. Little has served as the Lieutenant Governor since 2009.

"I served in the Legislature in leadership and also working as Lieutenant Governor, I preside over the senate," he said. "I think, you can ask the question with the Legislature about how I get along with the Legislature, and I think my record reflects it."

Ahlquist, a newcomer to Idaho politics, does not believe he'll have an issue working hand in hand with lawmakers.

"Eight out of the last 14 governors, Republican governors in the United States, have been business guys with no political experience, and, by the way, they're doing fine," Ahlquist said. "I'm not worried at all. I love working with [the Legislature] now, and I look forward to working with them afterwards."

As states around Idaho legalize marijuana for medical and/or recreational use, Little and Ahlquist said they are opposed to legalizing recreational marijuana. Both candidates said they are favorable to cannabidiol or CBD Oil being used for medicinal purposes. 

"I am totally against recreational marijuana, and medical marijuana, I think it needs to be narrow," Little said. "Like we're doing it now to where we have a controlled program particularly for those kids, those epileptic kids, that the cannabidiol is a solution. But we have to control the quality of that product. It cannot be a wholesale." 

"If it's prescribed by a physician and the hallucinogenic properties are out, just like other plants we use in medicine... I'm very much behind that," Ahlquist said. "But I'm totally opposed to the legalization of marijuana." 

Idaho's Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said he will not seek a fourth term and has endorsed Little. Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney endorsed Ahlquist.

Little and Ahlquist also face U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador in the Idaho GOP primary election.

Labrador's campaign repeatedly denied requests from Six On Your Side for an interview.