Fourth-term state Rep. Bob Nonini is running for the Senate, but his actions in the primary - pouring thousands into the campaigns of unsuccessful challengers to several sitting GOP lawmakers, including three senators - could make him an unpopular arrival there. “I'm getting back-door support from moderate Republicans,” said his Democratic challenger, Kristy Reed Johnson. “Mr. Nonini has left the center of the party.” Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, says, “I'm going to have some bridge-building to do, I'm sure. And I'm confident that I can do that.”
It's the hottest race in North Idaho's District 3, a heavily GOP legislative district that nevertheless has Democrats mounting challenges for all three seats. Johnson's husband, Ronald K. Johnson, is challenging Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls; while fourth-time Democratic candidate David Larsen is up against GOP primary winner Ron Mendive for Nonini's old House seat. But the action clearly revolves around Nonini, who affronted the very GOP caucus he hopes to join in the Senate with his controversial moves in the primary.
“Obviously, it's going to be somewhat awkward for him,” said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “I certainly don't condone what he did and I don't appreciate what he did. Sanctions, disciplinary action, those are all possibilities.” Hill added, “I've talked to Rep. Nonini, I went to his home and visited with him and his wife, and you know, we want to be able to help him to be successful as a state senator. But we have to look after the whole body, and make sure that we're successful for the people as a whole.” You can read my full story here from today's Spokesman-Review.