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Religion and politics?

BLACKFOOT, Idaho - Idaho Secretary of State candidate Evan Frasure, a Republican, said he was misunderstood when he referenced his and his opponent's religion.

In a response for an Idaho Statesman voter guide, Frasure referenced his LDS mission and his Republican opponent Phil McGrane's Catholic faith. That question posed was "What makes you a better choice for voters than your opponent(s)?"

"I was surprised to see religion made an issue," said McGrane. I think we have lots of good folks who rely on their faith in the state of Idaho, and who have served this state very well, and of a diversity of faiths, as well."

In Frasure's response to the Idaho Statesman he wrote, "Phil on the other hand, a good Catholic goes to work for Ameri-corp for a year then off to two colleges in Washington earning a degree in philosophy at the University of Washington, hardly the path of a future Republican." Frasure said a Post Register editorial later twisted those words to imply he had meant his Mormon faith made him the better Republican.

"They're taking the fact that I served on a mission, I didn't even say that I was quote - Mormon," said Frasure. "I just said, I'd served a mission and that affected my political beliefs, and it did severely."

Frasure said a mission to New Zealand in the 1970s made him a rock-solid conservative.

"That does impact my thinking, it influences my whole approach to government," said Frasure. "I believe in limited government, and it's because of that experience in a socialist country. We don't want to go there, that's the reason that came up."

McGrane said his Catholic faith also guides his decisions, but he questions whether religion needed to be brought into the race in the first place.

"You know, I have family here in Eastern Idaho, and we've always been very welcomed, so I was certainly surprised to see it made an issue in this race," said McGrane.

Frasure said his faith-based comments were not meant to entice anyone to vote for him, and that no offense was meant toward McGrane.

"My brother's Catholic, I roomed with a Catholic senator over in Boise, one of my political allies and mentor is Jim Risch, also a fellow Catholic," said Frasure. "He's a good Catholic candidate, and there's nothing wrong with that."

Evan Frasure is a high school government teacher and businessman in Pocatello. He served in the Idaho House of Representative for three years, and the Idaho State Senate for a decade.

Phil McGrane is the Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk. He was born in Pocatello and raised in Boise.

Three other candidates are running for Idaho Secretary of State: Republicans Lawerence Denney and Mitch Toryanski and Democrat Holli Woodings.

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