BOISE — Idaho still doesn’t have a nominee for its open U.S. district judgeship, but on Friday, the White House included an Idaho nominee for U.S. Attorney among a list of five new U.S. Attorney nominees for states around the nation.
President Joe Biden nominated Joshua D. Hurwit, who has been an assistant U.S. Attorney in Idaho since 2012; the current acting U.S. Attorney for Idaho is Rafael M. Gonzalez Jr.
Hurwit’s nomination, along with nominees for the southern district of Illinois, the middle and eastern districts of Pennsylvania, and the eastern district of California, now goes to the Senate for confirmation.
The White House also announced three new U.S. Marshal nominees on Friday. All the new nominees are “officials who will be indispensable to upholding the rule of law as top federal law enforcement officials,” the White House said in a news release, adding, “These individuals were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in the field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice.”
Hurwit worked at three law firms before joining the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2012; he also clerked for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He holds a law degree from Harvard and a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.
The latest batch of U.S. Attorney nominations brings the total announced so far by Biden to 48.
ONE INITIATIVE WON’T PROCEED
It’s still too early to tell on the rest — the last day to gather signatures to qualify initiatives for the November 2022 ballot is April 30 — but backers of at least one, on medical marijuana, say they won’t be turning in any signatures. In fact, Joe Evans told Eye on Boise, they stopped gathering signatures a month ago.
Evans said the medical marijuana proposal, from a group called “Kind Idaho,” ran out of steam due to organizational issues. “We actually stopped doing our active petition drive about a month ago,” he said Friday. “We realized we weren’t going to hit the numbers, and we had burnt out enough of our volunteers.”
The group will instead go into a “building phase,” said Evans, who also is a candidate for Congress this year on the Libertarian Party ticket, and “show our intent to deliver in the next two years.”
A second marijuana-related initiative, proposed by Russ Belville, aims to decriminalize possession by adults in Idaho of up to three ounces of marijuana that was purchased legally in another jurisdiction. It’s not clear where that measure stands, and Belville couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday.
Medical marijuana initiatives have been proposed in Idaho in every election cycle in the past decade, every two years since 2012, but they’ve never successfully made the ballot.
Other initiatives still shown as circulating this year include a bevy of proposals to raise the minimum wage in Idaho by varying amounts; sponsor Chris Stroh also couldn’t be reached Friday for a progress report.
Jason Hancock, deputy Idaho secretary of state and elections director, said initiative sponsors have through April to gather signatures, and then must turn them in promptly to county clerks for verification. County clerks must complete verification by June 30, and then petition sponsors must file their verified documents with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office by July 8 to make the November ballot.
Already qualified for the November ballot is a constitutional amendment, which the state Legislature passed by the required two-thirds margin in 2021, to allow lawmakers to call themselves into special session whenever 60% of the members of each house sign on to a written request, which also would have to specify the topics that could be covered.
Currently, the Idaho Constitution permits only the governor to call the Legislature into special session.
NRA WEIGHS IN AGAIN
After last week endorsing candidates in three top Idaho GOP primary races, the National Rifle Association has come out with two more: U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson.
Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, faces four little-known challengers in the GOP primary as he seeks a fourth six-year term in the Senate. Two Democrats, Ben Pursley of Boise and David Roth of Idaho Falls, are vying in the Democratic primary for the chance to face the winner in November.
Simpson is facing Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith and three other little-known challengers in the GOP primary; Wendy Norman of Rigby is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Last week, the NRA Political Victory Fund endorsed Gov. Brad Little and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden over their GOP primary challengers, along with current House Speaker Scott Bedke, who is running for lieutenant governor.