Eye On Boise

When history rhymes: A look back at the last time an Idaho guv was defeated in the primary...

In his Johnson Post blog, Marc Johnson offers an interesting take today on the historical parallels between this year, when two-term Gov. Butch Otter faces a primary challenge from a member of an insurgent wing of the Idaho Republican Party, state Sen. Russ Fulcher, to 1966, when popular three-term GOP Gov. Robert E. Smylie faced a similar challenge – and unexpectedly lost to Don Samuelson. “The politics of Idaho just became a lot more interesting,” Johnson writes, “and, while it should be said emphatically that Butch Otter has many, many significant advantages as he goes for a third term as governor – a solid conservative record, a winning personality, a polished retail approach to politics, lots of money, and the advantages of incumbency – once in a while history does rhyme.”

Johnson also notes that the eventual outcome of the 1966 political upheaval in Idaho was a 1970 election that began 24 straight years of Democratic control of the Idaho governorship, with the election of Cecil Andrus, “a political phenomenon that seemed unimaginable four decades ago, but that happened in no small part because of the turmoil fostered by the primary defeat of an Idaho governor who seemed unbeatable until he wasn’t.” You can read Johnson’s full piece here.




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Betsy Z. Russell




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