Idaho Democrats recruited more than 90 candidates to run for office this year, and there were nine contested Democratic primary contests across the state last month, Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant told his party's state convention today. Now, there are 82 Democratic candidates on the ballot for legislative seats.
“Some are placeholders,” Grant acknowledged. “You've got to have placeholders in these elections, because you never know when somebody is going to steal an RV and … crash it, or refuse to pay their taxes,” he said to laughter. But Grant said there are 60 Democratic legislative candidates “running honest, sincere and vigorous races across the state. … That's more candidates than anybody can remember in the state of Idaho … since the '60s.”
Boise State University political scientists Gary Moncrief said, “We've usually got about 40 to 50 seats that are uncontested, just doing the math; a lot of those that are contested are barely contested. So if in fact they're running 60 serious races, I would think that's higher than we've seen in some time.”
In 1990, when the Senate split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, there were more seats in the Legislature, at 126. Democrats only failed to compete in 30 of those races that year. In 1992, which was both a competitive time between the parties and, like this year, a redistricting year, which typically draws more candidates, the Dems left 31 of 105 seats uncontested. This year, according to records at the Idaho Secretary of State's office, Democrats were on the ballot for all but 28 of the seats in the Legislature in the primary, and five more Dems made the ballot as primary election write-ins, for a total of just 23 seats not contested by Democrats in November.
The Democrats begin debating their state party platform late this afternoon; tomorrow, they'll finalize the platform and elect delegates to the national party convention.