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The District 23 Republican Central Committee on Tuesday picked Stephen Hartgen to replace Rep. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, on the Nov. 4 general election ballot. He was also its top choice for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to choose from when a successor to finish Brackett's term is named.

Hartgen, a Twin Falls business consultant, won the ballot position over Gene Winchester, a former legislator, and Doran Parkins, a retired school administrator, said Gretchen Clelland, Twin Falls County Republican Central Committee Chair-woman. That decision does not require Otter's approval.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome," Hartgen said after the decision. "I'm humbled and honored and I look forward to serving."

He faces Democrat Mike Ihler Nov. 4.

Winchester and Parkins were the other nominations Otter will choose from to finish Brackett's term.

Brackett, a second-term legislator, was picked by Otter to finish the term of state Sen. Tom Gannon, R-Buhl, who died in June. The committee already named him to replace Gannon on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Tuesday's meeting was held in Mountain Home at A.J.'s Restaurant. Anyone living in rural District 23 Owyhee County and western Twin Falls County was eligible to serve.

Hartgen said he has no immediate priorities but would bring a conservative outlook and fiscal oversight during a soft economy. He said the district is diverse and growing and one with potential for new opportunities like wind energy.

Hartgen, a former Times-News publisher, is a graduate of Amherst College (Mass.) and holds a doctorate from the University of Minnesota. He is involved in several community boards, and sits on the Idaho State Capitol Commission.

Otter has 15 days to name the replacement. If he misses the deadline, the committee chooses among its choices.

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