Sen. Mike Crapo’s third party challenger, Randy Bergquist, said he’s a lifelong Republican, but is running under the Constitution Party because both major political parties have strayed too far from the country’s founding document.

To Bergquist, an independent insurance agent from Fruitland who hasn’t held an elected office, closely following the Constitution means putting a stop to federal programs not written into the Constitution. He is calling for the gradual repeal of all federal social welfare programs, including Social Security, health care programs, and federal education funding.

Bergquist said states would have the option of creating social programs, which fall outside the federal government’s constitutional authority.

Similarly, Bergquist said the federal government should take a limited role in helping the U.S. economy. He said he’s against bailouts of private companies and wants to audit or eliminate the Federal Reserve, which sets monetary policy.

“The best thing they can do is get out of the way,” he said about the government’s economic role. “They do not create jobs. The government does not create wealth and prosperity.” He said small businesses, not the government, will lead the country out of tough economic times.

Crapo voted against the bailout and subsequent oversight reforms for the nation’s financial sector.

Another area Bergquist would like the federal government to scale back is its military operations overseas. Bergquist, who served in the Air Force, said he wants the U.S. to pull its troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq as soon as is safely possible.

Bergquist said he believes in a strong national defense, but said the armed conflicts of the past decade have hurt the nation’s finances and reputation around the world.

If he is elected, Bergquist’s policy ideas might not garner much support from others in Congress. However, he said he’s ready to push lawmakers to curb spending to reduce the national deficit and the burden on taxpayers.

One part of the Constitution Bergquist favors changing is the 17th Amendment, which allows citizens, not state lawmakers, to elect U.S. senators. Bergquist said popular elections can make senators less responsive to their states.

Bergquist mentioned a recent CBS news report highlighting that more than 80 percent of Crapo’s campaign contributions come from outside Idaho. The Democratic challenger in the race, Tom Sullivan, issued a news release Wednesday criticizing Crapo’s out-of-state funding.

Bergquist himself has run a limited campaign. He said he originally filed to run to be a placeholder for another Constitution Party candidate, but is staying on the ballot. He said he’s campaigned in Twin Falls, but has not had campaign stops in southeast or northern Idaho. He also didn’t qualify for the statewide debate on Idaho Public Television. Crapo and Sullivan will be squaring off on Oct. 12.

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