BOISE — Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little has won the hotly contested GOP primary in the race to replace Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Little secured the nomination Tuesday against top opponents U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist.
The gubernatorial seat became a top political race when Otter announced he wouldn’t seek a fourth term — marking the first time in 12 years the top statewide seat would be open.
The 64-year-old Little is a rancher and Idaho native who has spent the past 16 years in elected office. In 2009, Otter appointed Little to the number two position with the expectation that he would one day become the Republican governor’s successor.
Little is the grandson of the “sheep king of Idaho,” Andy Little, a Scotsman who came to Emmett in 1884 and built an empire with 100,000 sheep.
Former state Rep. Paulette Jordan has won the Democratic primary for Idaho governor.
She is the first woman to become the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Idaho.
If she wins the general election, Jordan would not only be the first woman to serve as Idaho governor but also the first Native American woman to serve in that position in any state.
The 38-year-old Jordan, who is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, won Tuesday’s primary against 72-year-old Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.
The last Native American to hold a statewide office in Idaho was in 1990, when Larry Echo Hawk ran as a Democrat for attorney general.
The open gubernatorial seat became a top political race when Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter announced he wouldn’t seek a fourth term.
If you do one thing: The Environmental Resource Center’s Spring Science Series will feature a “Bats of Idaho” program by Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve at 6 p.m. in Queen of the Hills Room at the Community Campus, 1050 Fox Acres Road, Hailey. Free.
JEROME — Jerome County residents voted to oust two of their incumbent county commissioners Tuesday.
Voters selected John Crozier to take over Roger Morley’s District 3 seat, and Ben Crouch will take Catherine Roemer’s District 1 seat on the county commission.
Crozier, 58, ran away with 49.9 percent of the vote (1,140 votes) in a three-way race against Morley and businessman George Panagiotou. He will serve a four-year term.
Crozier’s immediate plans are to do some homework and get caught up on county government issues and functions.
“I’ve been here a long time and I’m fairly visible in the community,” he said. “I’m not a politician. I seek to be a public servant. I don’t have any agendas.”
Crozier, 58 is a lifelong Jerome County resident and owns an auto body repair shop, Crozier Coachworks Inc., in Jerome County. He was on the Jerome School District board of trustees.
Crozier said he’d like to see the local economy become more diverse, but the county needs to grow in a fair and balanced way, he said.
In the first campaign spending reports, Crozier had raised the least for his campaign, $1,266. Panagiotou, on the other hand, had raised more than $12,000.
Morley, 66, has been on the county commission for eight years.
“John will be a great commissioner,” he said. “He’ll do a fine job.”
Crouch took 56.8 percent of the vote in the race against Roemer, with 1,307 votes to her 994. His will be a two-year term.
“I’m just happy with the win right now and very excited,” Crouch said. “People wanted change, and that helped me out a bit.”
Crouch, 54, has lived in Jerome County for four years and is the editor of the North Side Journal. He says he also refurbishes homes on the side.
Roemer, 66, has been on the commission for almost 10 years.
“I have served well for the past 10 years doing the very best for Jerome County citizens, and as long as Ben Crouch agrees with everything that commissioner Charlie Howell says and does, he will be fine,” Roemer told the Times-News in a phone interview late Tuesday. “If he does not, then he will have a vendetta against him, as I have.”
More than 2,700 voters cast ballots in the primary. According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, Jerome County had 7,811 registered voters as of May 3. That includes 4,179 registered Republicans, 2,877 unaffiliated voters, 590 registered Democrats, 127 registered Constitution party voters and 38 registered Libertarians.
TWIN FALLS — Magic Valley representation in the state Senate will look largely the same as in years past, voters decided Tuesday.
Longtime Republican incumbents in Districts 24 and 25 held their seats against a wave of “liberty-minded” primary challengers who positioned themselves to the right of their powerful opponents and campaigned on a desire to “drain the swamp” in the Idaho statehouse.
Sen. Lee Heider of Twin Falls and Sen. Jim Patrick of Twin Falls will each serve at least two more years in the legislature.
In District 23, incumbent Sen. Bert Brackett was ahead by a wide margin as of press time late Tuesday night.
Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, and Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, did not have primary opponents this year, but Republican Julie Lynn has filed to run against Stennett in the general election.
Sen. Bert Brackett earned 672 votes in Twin Falls County; his challenger, Mark Rhatigan of Mountain Home, earned 189.
Results were not available online for Elmore County or Owyhee County as of 11:40 p.m.
Brackett, a rancher from Rogerson, has served in the legislature since 2005, first for two terms in the House of Representatives. He is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Less is known about Rhatigan, who was Brackett’s first primary opponent since 2012. A Facebook page for his campaign described him as “liberty-minded,” a “Constitutionalist,” and “the Real Conservative.”
One of the livelier primary races this year saw incumbent Sen. Lee Heider, chair of the Senate Health & Welfare Committee, go up against Jay S. Waters III, an automotive restoration worker from Twin Falls.
Heider ultimately came out on top, with 2,798 votes to Waters’s 1,283. This will be Heider’s fifth term in the Senate.
Waters said he decided to run after Heider refused to hold a hearing for a bill to legalize CBD oil during the 2018 legislative session.
“I think for 68 days I made a pretty big impact,” Waters said. “I think I’ll sit back and see where I want to go from here.”
District 25Sen. Jim Patrick, a farmer from Twin Falls, will keep his seat for another two years.
Patrick earned 3,316 votes, while his opponent, Terry Edwards of Jerome, earned 1,467.
Patrick was first elected to the legislature in 2006, serving three terms in the House of Representatives before being elected to the Senate. He is chairman of the Commerce & Human Resources Committee.
Edwards, whose background is in the agriculture industry, described himself as more conservative than Patrick throughout his campaign, referring to current Magic Valley representation in the statehouse as “Republicans-In-Name-Only.”
“I respect my opponent even though we didn’t agree on a lot of issues,” Patrick said. “I think philosophically, maybe I fit the majority or I wouldn’t have won.”
TWIN FALLS — A mix of old and new faces will represent the Magic Valley in the Idaho state legislature next year.
In an election year where incumbent candidates faced an atypically high number of primary challengers, some for the first time in years, all of the incumbents had won or were ahead as of late Tuesday night.
Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer and Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, will serve their districts for another two years. Rep. Christy Zito, R-Hammett, was ahead of her opponent at press time late Tuesday night.
Two new faces will fill the seats left open by the retirement of Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, and Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls.
Laurie Lickley, one of three Republicans who ran for Bell’s seat, will take over seat 25A. Hartgen’s wife, Linda Wright Hartgen, will face Democrat Deborah Silver in the general election for seat 24B.
The two incumbent House candidates in District 26, Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, and Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, did not have primary challengers, though each will face an opponent in the general election.
Other Magic Valley legislators running unopposed in both the primary and general election are Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, and Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
As of 11:40 p.m. Tuesday night, incumbent Rep. Christy Zito was leading challenger Oscar Evans by a wide margin in at least one county in District 23.
Election results were not available online in Elmore County or Owyhee County, but Zito defeated Evans 567 to 282 in Twin Falls County.
The retirement of Rep. Stephen Hartgen, former publisher of the Times-News, left House Seat 24B vacant.
Now another Hartgen is one step closer to filling it: his wife, Linda Wright Hartgen.
Hartgen brought in 2,484 votes, defeating her opponent, Rocky Ferrenburg, who earned 1,509. She’ll face Democrat Deborah Silver in the general election.
“I felt like I ran a good race, and there was no mudslinging or anything like that,” Hartgen said, adding that she is looking forward to working on health care and education if she wins the general election.
Hartgen previously served as the Twin Falls county clerk and trial court administrator for the 5th Judicial District.
Lickley, a rancher from Jerome, will take over the seat currently held by retiring Rep. Maxine Bell.
Three Republicans made bids for House seat A: Lickley, B. Roy Prescott, a rancher from Jerome, and Glenneda Zuiderveld, a small business owner from Jerome.
Lickley earned 2,531 votes, Prescott earned 1,299 votes and Zuiderveld earned 1,237 votes
“I’m very humbled by the outpouring of support for this campaign, and we will continue to focus on stronger roots, stronger families and stronger communities,” Lickley said. “I’m looking forward to working with our entire constituency across the Magic Valley and building on Idaho’s amazing legacy.”
Rep. Clark Kauffman, incumbent candidate for House seat B, will keep his seat. Kauffman brought in 3,147 votes; his challenger, Lyle Johnstone, got 1,606.
Kauffman, a farmer from Filer, has served three terms in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, will hold his House 27B seat for another two years. Wood earned 4,049 votes; his opponent, Kevin Williams of Elba, earned 1,505.
Wood is a retired physician who serves as chairman of the House Health & Welfare Committee. He has served six terms in the legislature.