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Senate race in Idaho

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Larry LaRocco opposes Archuleta for U.S. Senate

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho's primary election will be held May 27, with Larry LaRocco running against David Archuleta on the Democratic ticket for the U.S. Senate seat.

LaRocco's public service goes back to 1969, when he served as a captain in military intelligence for the U.S. Army.

''I didn't serve in Vietnam, but was in the Army during the Vietnam War for three years,'' he said.

He returned to Idaho and began working for Sen. Frank Church in 1975 and was the north Idaho field representative from 1975 to 1981.

''My territory was from the Salmon River north, so I worked with three tribes - the Nez Perce, Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai - on various issues on Senator Church's behalf. I attended many functions and stayed in touch with the tribal councils.''

In 1990, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and was re-elected in 1992 for two more years. He served on the House Interior Committee, which also brought him into contact with American Indian issues.

''I had the great honor to represent them [Natives] in Congress and work with them on issues. I've found the tribes to be the conscience on natural resource issues,'' LaRocco said. ''I think they need a voice in Congress to help express their concerns about sovereignty who understands the importance of the treaty obligations with the U.S. government.

''When I was in Congress, I recommended that President Clinton nominate Betty Richardson as U.S. attorney. That position interfaces with the tribes quite often and she had an excellent relationship with the tribes. I think it was one of the strongest things I did during that time - to make sure we had a very effective and strong U.S. attorney who worked side by side with the tribes on many issues.''

Commenting on other actions involving tribes, he said, ''I've worked with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe on the cleanup of the Coeur d'Alene Basin and introduced legislation to help clean up that area. I've always supported tribal gaming. I've always thought it was one of the diversifications for tribes in terms of economic development.

''I think I have a key understanding of Indian country issues. I've always approached them with a great deal of respect. My door has always been open.''

LaRocco has been traversing the state, taking various jobs for a day at a time, ''working side by side with Idahoans to get a better understanding of the challenges they face with their families and the rising cost of health care and energy costs and other things. One of the jobs I took for a day was at the Dworshak Fish Hatchery, working with the Nez Perce for a day, helping clean up the pens and getting briefings on the programs.

''The Nez Perce have done a remarkable job and have joined management of that facility. The mitigation issues are very, very important. I understand fully the tribe's role in helping restore salmon runs, which are really an economic conduit and shot in the arm to the region. Fish are quite an economic driver in our economy these days. I worked with Mr. Penney [Nez Perce] up there and became familiar with their programs to bring coho back to the basin. I really applaud their efforts.''

On the election in general and his qualifications to represent Idaho, LaRocco had this to say: ''I've been working very hard to bring about change and representing the forgotten Idahoans who have no representation, really, in Washington, D.C., and have not been in the huddle as key decisions have been made on the war and energy and policy and driving our deficit through the roof. I want to represent the working families of Idaho.

''With Senator Craig's departure from the scene, Idaho loses that seniority,'' he said, explaining, ''My time and service in the U.S. House of Representatives will be considered for seniority when I go to the U.S. Senate. That's a good thing for Idaho for two reasons. I will have the seniority and will also be a member of the majority party. That's good value for Idaho.''

LaRocco also has the experience of being president of the Association of Former Members of Congress from 2000 to 2002. It's a group of 600 former senators and House members who work on a number of international and domestic programs. He currently serves on the association's board.