When Idaho congressional candidate Rudy Soto meets people on his RV tour through the Gem State, he said one of their biggest concerns they discuss with him is the partisanship in Congress.
“People are sick and tired of it,” he said. “They feel like there’s too many career politicians. They’re not really serving people’s interest. They’re just advancing their own cause and political party.”
The 34-year-old Democrat, who is running to represent Idaho’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives, said he wants to buck that trend.
Soto is challenging Rep. Russ Fulcher in the November election, and he said his opponent is a prime example of that partisanship.
According to rankings from the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University that measure how often representatives work across party lines on legislation, Fulcher ranks 422 (out of 437) among his House peers.
“That approach to politics isn’t going to get us anywhere, when someone isn’t willing to reach across the aisle and tackle serious complex problems in a constructive way,” he said.
Soto said if he is elected, he will join the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is a group of representatives equally divided between Republicans and Democrats aiming to work together on issues.
He also promises to limit his run in Congress to three terms and refuse to take corporate money.
“I think we need people to approach the job not as a lifelong career but as a duty to their constituents and country,” he said.
As the Nampa native campaigns for the November election, Soto has embarked on an RV tour with the plan of traveling through every Idaho county and holding town halls along the way. On Saturday, he stopped at the Moscow Farmers Market and planned to tour the University of Idaho campus and Northwest River Supplies today.
He said fixing health insurance is his biggest priority if elected.
On his website, Soto says this issue inspired him to run for Congress. His late father was laid off and lost his health insurance shortly before being diagnosed with cancer. He was unable to qualify for Medicaid and was priced out of insurance plans.
Soto wants to help create a public option to help those who are unemployed, underemployed, recent college graduates or those who do not qualify for Medicaid. A public option would provide these people basic, affordable health insurance and it would improve the Affordable Care Act, he said.
He said improving education spending is also a priority because Idaho ranks 51st in the country in per student spending.
Additionally, Soto said there needs to be greater investment in helping rural students by providing better access to broadband in rural areas.
He said many people in rural communities struggle with reliable internet access and he fears students are being left behind because of it.
“I see it as investments that are a boost for commerce all around,” he said.
Soto is a first generation college student who is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, the son of a Mexican immigrant and is a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard.
Soto said that as a 34-year-old, a veteran and a Native American, he can bring an underrepresented voice to Congress while still relating to people from all backgrounds.
“My slogan is, ‘A different kind of Democrat,’ ” he said.
Soto said he grew up a conservative and now views himself as a moderate Democrat. He said his experience in the National Guard put him in contact with people from all walks of life, and Soto said that experience now helps him connect with people regardless of political party.
“I’m running for everyday Idahoans and Americans that struggle to make ends meet and simply seek to have a fair shot at the American dream,” he said.
More information can be found at his website, rudysoto.us.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org