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Nearing the end of the legislative session

Senator Bert Brackett (R), facing, talks with Senator Lee Heider (R) March 23, 2017, at the Capitol building in Boise.

Now that the dust has settled on the 2018 legislative session, politicians and constituents alike have shifted their attention to primary elections.Changes are on the horizon for Idaho’s government. At the very least, the Gem State will have a new governor for the first time since 2006 and a new lieutenant governor for the first time since 2008. In south-central Idaho, voters have choices — and plenty of them.

Two local state representatives — Rep. Maxine Bell and Rep. Stephen Hartgen — are not seeking reelection. For the primaries, Hartgen’s District 24 seat has two Republican candidates in Linda Wright Hartgen (Hartgen’s wife) and Rocky Ferrenburg. Bell’s District 25 seat has three Republican candidates: Glenneda Zuiderveld, Laurie Lickley and B. Roy Prescott.

And it’s not just in vacant seats that Magic Valley voters have choices to make. Several local legislators are facing primary challengers for the first time in several election cycles, including three state senators and two state representatives.

Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, and Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, each have primary challengers for the first time since 2012 (Mark Rhatigan for Brackett and Terry Edwards for Patrick). Patrick has not had a primary opponent in any election since he first won a District 23A House seat in 2006, a position he held for six years before running for Senator. Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, has a primary challenger in Jay Waters III, Heider’s first primary opponent since upending incumbent Charles Coiner in 2010.

In the House, Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, has a primary challenger for the first time since winning a District 23 seat in 2006, and Rep. Clark Kauffman, R-Filer, has a primary challenger for the first time since winning a District 25 seat in 2012. Kevin Williams is challenging Wood, and Lyle Johnstone is challenging Kauffman.

Depending on how the primary elections shake out on May 15, Idaho is facing anywhere from a shakeup at the top of its state government to a massive overhaul of the faces and names that head to the Capitol building each winter.

There is no shortage of options from which Idaho voters can choose next month, particularly on the Republican side. The next few weeks will affect years of state policy and procedure. In the meantime, buckle up, read up on the candidates and prepare to hit the ballot booths in May. If there were ever an election cycle that Idahoans should stay informed and cast a vote, this is it.

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