By Zach Hagadone
The top-of-the-ticket contests in the May 17 Idaho primary election resulted in still-unofficial wins for GOP incumbent Gov. Brad Little and Oakley Republican Rep. Scott Bedke (for more on those races see Page 7). Little will now face Democratic challenger Stephen Heidt and Bedke will go up against Democrat Terri Pickens Manweiler in the November general election.
Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad’s write-in bid to get on the Democratic ballot for governor garnered close to 20% of the vote, while Bonner County Commissioner Steven Bradshaw’s campaign for governor in the GOP primary captured just shy of 2%.
Phil McGrane prevailed in the Republican primary for secretary of state and will face Democrat Shawn Keenan; former-Congressman Raul Labrador unseated incumbent Lawrence Wasden in the GOP primary for attorney general, now with Democrat Steven Scanlin for an opponent; and Republican Debbie Critchfield came out on top for superintendent of public instruction and will run against Democrat Terry Gilbert in November.
Down the ballot and elsewhere in the state, the Idaho Legislature will almost certainly look and sound different when it gavels into session in January 2023.
In addition to changes in Legislative District 1 (see Page 5), a number of other districts saw upsets and significant moves between chambers of the Legislature. Democrats fielded very few candidates, and none of the Statehouse races were contested, so all the drama took place within the Republican primary.
In the newly redrawn Legislative District 2, former House member Phil Hart — who lost his primary bid in 2012 and left the Legislature under a cloud amid his long-standing refusal to pay taxes and the illegal cutting of timber on state school endowment lands — is not only back but nominated to serve in the Senate. He is unopposed in the November general election.
Meanwhile, former District 1 Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, won her new District 2 seat unopposed.
Another new face likely to join the ranks of the Senate in January is Doug Okuniewicz, of Hayden, who previously served as the House 2B member from District 2 but is now in District 3. He will not face a Democratic challenger in November.
In District 4, three-term incumbent Rep. Paul Amador, of Coeur d’Alene, lost his seat to Elaine Price by a margin of 220 votes. In another loss for an incumbent, three-term Sen. Carl Crabtree, of Grangeville, was primaried out by Cindy Carlson in Legislative District 7.
In southern Idaho, two-term incumbent Rep. Tammy Nichols, of Middleton — frequently seen as a close ally of Scott, White Bird Rep. Priscilla Giddings and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin — successfully moved from the House to an uncontested seat in the Senate for District 10.
Four-term Caldwell Rep. Greg Chaney, generally regarded as one of the more “moderate” Republican House members, failed in his attempt to gain a seat in the Senate for District 11, losing to Chris Trakel.
Five-term Sen. Steven Thayn, of Emmett, was primaried out of District 14 by three-term Sen. C. Scott Grow after being pitted against one another by redistricting. In the same district, House B Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt, of Eagle, was unseated by Josh Tanner.
Finally, in one of the more interesting races in the Boise area, Family Forum founder and longtime nationally-known anti-abortion activist Dennis Mansfield won his GOP primary bid for the District 16 Senate seat, setting the stage for a general election contest with former Democratic Sen. Alie Rabe, who is seeking to succeed longtime Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Grant Burgoyne, who is retiring. In that race, Mansfield pulled 3,882 votes while Rabe drew 1,815.
Altogether, according to the Idaho Capital Sun, as of early May 18 a total of 19 Republican incumbents looked like they’ll be out of the Statehouse come January, in what the media outlet called “among the [most] consequential elections in years in Idaho.”
All results are preliminary until canvassed and certified.
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