|Idaho's state Supreme Court candidates went after each other's political independence Friday evening during their only scheduled major debate.
"When you stand on the courthouse steps with the Legislature, I'm not sure if you're sending the right messages to the people of Idaho that there's a clear division of judiciary and legislative branch," said candidate Robyn Brody, an attorney from Rupert.
Brody was calling out fellow candidates Clive Strong, a longtime deputy attorney general, and Curt McKenzie, a seven-term Republican state senator — who have both held press conferences at courthouses announcing endorsements from partisan lawmakers.
Idaho Court of Appeals Judge Sergio Gutierrez also echoed Brody's concerns of seeking high-profile endorsements, adding that he's not running to be a politician but a justice.
However, Strong countered that his 33-year career inside the attorney general's office has often required him to stand up to the Idaho Legislature and McKenzie argued that he strayed from his fellow GOP members during the Legislature by voting no on the so-called ag-gag bill, which was later ruled illegal in federal court.
The first round of campaign contribution reports aren't due until May 10, making endorsements that much more open to scrutiny for signs of possible bias.
Furthermore, Supreme Court candidates are banned from talking about their past of current political party affiliations — even though political party registrations are public records — as well as giving their opinions on how they would vote on previous or pending state supreme court decisions.