Rudy Soto photo

First Congressional District candidate Rudy Soto visited Grangeville last Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 8-9, as part of his campaign bus tour.

GRANGEVILLE – The days of covid have definitely set up next-level difficulties for newcomers challenging sitting officials in the upcoming November general election. For congressional candidate Rudy Soto, that has meant actively seeking opportunities for personal interactions.

“People are not out as they usually would be,” said Soto, with pandemic restrictions and precautions in place, “so I figured, to overcome that hurdle of visibility, to get out there and be seen, and show up at the local grocery market, for example, and connect with people and to be safe [regarding covid concerns] as much as possible.”

Soto is getting out on the campaign’s “Every County, Every Community” tour that plans to hit all 19 counties within the 1st Congressional District, holding town hall meetings, and visiting with people on his vision of public service.

Soto, running on the Democrat ticket, will face off against incumbent Republican Russ Fulcher in the Nov. 3 election. He discussed his tour during a visit to Grangeville last Wednesday, Sept. 9.

“I really felt we needed to be out all over,” he said. “It’s been a real challenge. A lot of people don’t know me, and I’m trying to unseat an incumbent. This is the way to do it,” through a combination of community outreach visits, coupled with online marketing.

“When I got in the race, health care access and affordability was my number one issue,” he said, based on his personal background. His father was laid off and lost his health insurance, and so lacked the quality care needed for cancer screenings, which came too late. Soto “put that pain into purpose” in outreach and enrollment efforts for Affordable Healthcare Act exchange plans. “The 2018 passage of Medicaid expansion by more than 60 percent of the vote, that was a huge wake-up call for me…. Seeing that 16 of the 19 counties in the first district voted in favor of Medicaid expansion was a sign that, if the right issue is presented to voters, or the right candidate can connect with voters, that can break through the partisanship. That’s what I believe I have the capacity to do, whether in this race or another one.”

Improving broadband within Idaho is an important issue for Soto. This falls in line with state efforts led last year by Gov. Brad Little, who convened a task force to review the situation and find solutions to improve connectivity for businesses and communities across the state.

“Rural broadband is a real big issue for me, when it comes to remote learning access and telehealth,” he said, “and we’re starting to see more bipartisan efforts for that, which we need.”

Soto said he would be a “more pragmatic, constructive, bipartisan leader, if and when elected.” In contrast, he said Fulcher is more of a messenger who pushes ideologies, “…kind of an AOC, but on the right,” whose had no bills move out of committee or become law, and has no powerful cosponsors even in his own party. Soto wants to work across party lines and for the state of Idaho as a whole as part of Idaho’s congressional delegation. He also stated that, if elected, he would term limit himself after three terms.

“Career politicians are part of the problem that are contributing to partisan gridlock, and that has resonated with people I’ve spoken with across party lines,” Soto said. “We need getting back to people being citizen legislators and not professional politicians.”

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