Posts tagged: 2010 election
1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris faced off in a lively debate tonight on Idaho Public Television. Among the highlights: Labrador called for raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70 and cutting a third of the staff at the Pentagon; and said he backs banning all abortions except to save the life of the mother. Farris opposed raising the retirement age and instead called for raising the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security; and agreed with Labrador that cuts in defense spending could reduce waste. Labrador said, “The first decision I made in Congress was to actually listen to Walt Minnick,” his Democratic predecessor, who urged him to hire his constituent services chief. “She has been the best decision I made as a congressman,” Labrador said.
I'll have a full report tomorrow. For more on the Idaho Debates, click here.
In a new opinion piece today, Gov. Butch Otter says he’s “read all the postmortems and punditry about the ‘meaning’ of the November 2nd election results,” and declares, “I believe most of it is well-intentioned, although there certainly is a fair amount of cynicism, condescension and sour grapes involved. And yes, there has been a little chest thumping too. None of it is warranted.”
Otter says, “The truth is that each of us from our own perspective – regardless of our political affiliation – are doing our level best to make Idaho a better place for our children and grandchildren than it is today. We agree on more than we disagree, and we mutually embrace more values than divide us.” Click below to read his full op-ed article.
Idaho’s state Republican and Democratic party chairmen - Norm Semanko and Keith Roark - will analyze the election results and take calls from viewers tonight on Idaho Public Television’s “Dialogue” with host Marcia Franklin; there’s more info here. The show airs live at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time, 7:30 Pacific; to join the conversation, you can email your questions in before the show to email@example.com, or call in live during the show, toll free, at (800) 973-9800.
Idaho elected its first Hispanic to represent the state in Congress on Tuesday, as Raul Labrador upset freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick with a decisive 51 percent to 41.3 percent victory. Labrador, a conservative Republican state lawmaker and immigration attorney who charged during the race that Minnick’s attack ads against him had racial overtones, said he thought the “first” was significant because it sent a message to the nation about Idahoans.
“People have such a bad connotation of what Idaho represents,” Labrador said, “a bad place, a racist place. I can’t think of a better message for Idaho to send than to send a young man who was born in Puerto Rico, was raised in Las Vegas and was adopted by this state.” Tony Stewart, a founding board member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, said the election result is one of a long string of firsts in Idaho’s history that belie the state’s image, which was tarnished by the presence in the 1990s of a small but violent group of white supremacists.
Idaho elected the nation’s first Jewish governor, Moses Alexander, in 1914, and the nation’s first Native American attorney general, Larry EchoHawk, in 1990. It’s also elected Native Americans to the state Legislature and at one time elected a high percentage of women to the Legislature compared to other states. “So there’s a track record there of looking at the merits of how people are seen as candidates, and they’re not basing it on race, but on the issues,” Stewart said. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
The Republican sweep of Idaho’s elections on Tuesday carried off one of North Idaho’s longest-serving lawmakers, a Democrat who often voted with the Republicans and whose campaign slogan was “as independent as Idaho.” Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, lost her bid for a seventh term in the Idaho House to political newcomer Shannon McMillan, who won with 54.9 percent of the vote. It was one of five seats Republicans picked up in the Idaho House while holding even in the Senate, boosting their supermajority in the Legislature from three-quarters of the seats to four-fifths.
Shepherd, 77, a retired restaurant/tavern owner who’s served in the House since 1999, said she’d never heard of McMillan before the campaign. “It doesn’t seem to matter what you do or how you do, it’s if you have a big ‘R’ or not,” Shepherd said. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Victorious Republican candidates gathered on the Statehouse steps for a rally today, where Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko declared, “Last night was the biggest victory in the history of Idaho Republican politics.” Newly elected 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador said he can now remove the bright red “Fire Pelosi” pin he’s been wearing on his lapel for the last few weeks. “We have done the job and I can take it off, because the mission has been finished,” Labrador declared. Newly re-elected Gov. Bucth Otter said, “Our focus for the next four years … is to continue on exactly what we’ve started the last four years.”
U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who won a third term in the Senate, said, “I think the message from America, which is the same message that people here in Idaho were sending us, is that we need to get to work. … My hope is that we can now get down to work, to work across party lines, develop consensus-based, conservative, constitutional focused solutions to the issues facing our nation. We can do it, we will do it.”
All four constitutional amendments that were on the Idaho ballot passed, and passed fairly easily. SJR 101, allowing “tuition” at the University of Idaho (rather than just “fees”), passed with 64.1 percent of the vote. HJR 4, on hospital debt, got 63.5 percent; HJR 5 on airport debt, passed with 53.3 percent support, and HJR 7, for municipal electric system debts and power contracts, passed with 57 percent. All had received overwhelming support in the Idaho Legislature - that’s how they got on the ballot - though the Idaho Republican Party at its convention this year voted to oppose the three debt amendments.
All 11 constitutional amendments that have appeared on Idaho’s ballot since 1998 have won approval from Idaho voters, including complex measures dealing with endowment investment reform. Idaho voters tend to support them. This AP photo by Charlie Litchfield shows a scene from Idaho’s polls yesterday.
The Republican sweep that swept across Idaho yesterday did more than return the state to a 100 percent Republican congressional delegation to match its all-GOP slate of top statewide officials: It also added five seats to the Republican majority in the Idaho House. According to final, unofficial results, the five switches came as seven-term Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, lost to first-time GOP candidate Shannon McMillan in District 2; Republican Kathy Sims beat Democrat Paula Marano for the seat formerly held by Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, in District 4; Rep. Liz Chavez, D-Lewiston, lost to Republican challenger Jeff Nesset in District 7; Republican Jim Guthrie won the District 29 seat formerly held by Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, defeating Democrat Greg Anderson; and, in the closest race in the state, former Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, edged Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking by just nine votes in District 18, to win the seat formerly held by Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise.
Durst lost his bid for the Idaho Senate seat formerly held by Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, to Republican Mitch Toryanski by just 103 votes. But Democrat Dan Schmidt defeated Republican Gresham Dale Bouma to take the Senate seat formerly held by longtime Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, whom Bouma defeated in the GOP primary; that leaves the Senate’s party balance where it was, with 28 Republicans and seven Democrats.
The Idaho House went from 52 Republicans and 18 Democrats to - if these election results hold - 57 Republicans and 13 Democrats. That drops the Dems from a quarter of the seats in the House to under a fifth. Overall, that means the Idaho Legislature goes from three-quarters GOP to four-fifths.
Outgoing Congressman Walt Minnick issued a statement early this morning, saying, “It now appears that Raul Labrador will be the victor when all the votes are finally tallied. Therefore, early this morning I placed a call to Raul and wished him every success as Idaho’s next Congressman. I, in particular, hope he can be successful in working with the Administration and his colleagues of both parties in the exceedingly important task ahead of putting our country back to work and of balancing our nation’s budget.”
Meanwhile, the victorious Labrador issued a statement saying, “Everywhere I campaigned throughout the district people wanted someone to bring sanity back to Washington DC. Whether it was a coffee shop in Nampa or a small business in Coeur d’Alene the message was the same; our government is out of control. I have always put the voters of Idaho first and I’m humbled by the support we received. They have placed their trust in me. I will hit the ground running in Washington to restore their faith in Congress and start working to create jobs.”
You can read Labrador’s full statement here, and click below to read Minnick’s full statement.
The Associated Press has called Idaho’s 1st District congressional race in favor of GOP challenger Raul Labrador. The latest figures from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office show that with 753 of 961 precincts reporting, Labrador had 50.2 percent to Minnick’s 42 percent, with independent Dave Olson garnering 5.9 percent and Libertarian Mike Washburn 1.9 percent.
Minnick’s campaign said on Twitter just now, “Congratulations to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.”
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has claimed victory in his re-election bid, saying in a statement, “I give credit to my opponent, Mr. Allred, for running a very tough race. In the end, Idahoans spoke loudly that strong conservative leadership is what they wanted during these tough times.” You can read Otter’s full statement here. In this AP photo by Matt Cilley, Otter, joined by his mother, Regina Otter, delivers a thank-you message to supporters earlier tonight; he waited to claim victory until he heard from Allred.
Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred has conceded to GOP Gov. Butch Otter in the governor’s race. “I believe more strongly than ever in the Founding Fathers’ wisdom that the best solutions are those that attract support across the lines that divide us,” Allred said in a statement. “It’s been my privilege to take that message to the people of Idaho.” Allred, who called Otter at 12:36 a.m. to concede, said, “I wish Governor Otter all the best as he works to guide our state through a difficult time.”
Meanwhile, GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador took the podium at Idaho GOP election night headquarters and said, “I want to go to bed. It’s too early to call it.” He thanked his supporters, and noted that he was outspent both in the primary race and in the general election contest. “I think they have shown what you can do with a little bit of money, a lot of energy and a lot of faith,” Labrador said.
With vote-counting delays in Kootenai, Ada and Canyon counties, the election results have been very slow to come in tonight, prompting several major candidates to hold off on either declaring victory or conceding - including Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger Keith Allred. Here are the latest results from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office: With 543 of 961 precincts reporting, Otter has 60.5 percent to Allred’s 31.7 percent, while independent Jana Kemp has 5.7 percent, Libertarian Ted Dunlap has 1.2 percent and independent “Pro-Life” has 0.8 percent.
The AP has called three more Idaho races: Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna all have won re-election, the AP says. The most high-profile race among those three was Luna’s; he faced a challenge from Stan Olson, the just-retired superintendent of the Boise School District, the state’s second-largest district. With 227 of 961 precincts reporting, Luna’s lead was 62.7 percent to Olson’s 37.3 percent.
Freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, the only Democrat among Idaho’s congressional delegation, said tonight that he’s not surprised he’s in such a hard-fought re-election race. “It’s the most Republican district to have elected a Democratic challenger in a Democratic year,” he said of his election in 2008. “We’re now in a very Republican year. In that circumstance … I think it was a given that it was going to have a lot of attention.” He said that was regardless of who the GOP nominee was against him.
Minnick said with a “Republican wave” out there, “more and more people have been asking, why shouldn’t it affect Idaho?” Plus, he said, it’s a time when “emotions are high and there is a great deal of disaffection,” given the nation’s economic straits and their impact on people. “Will people look beyond party label to the policies and background of the candidates as individuals? That’s the issue,” he said. “I’m of course hopeful that they will. We’ll have to see how it turns out. I expect it to be very close.
The early numbers looked very good for GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador - with 124 of 961 precincts reporting, Labrador had 50.7 percent of the vote to incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick’s 42.6 percent, with independent Dave Olson trailing at 5.2 percent and Libertarian Mike Washburn at 1.4 percent. Labrador said he’s not surprised the race is so competitive - even though he was underfunded and running against an incumbent congressman. “I think people this year, more than ever, were looking at the message and not at the money spent,” Labrador said. “When they saw the ads, they wanted to find out for themselves if those things were true.” He speculated that Minnick’s ads drove voters to Labrador’s website to check him out.
He also noted that while his name recognition at the start of the campaign was very low statewide, by the end it was up to 90 percent - a change he attributes to Minnick’s negative ads against him. “I want to thank him,” Labrador said with a grin. He added of the race, “It’s too early to call.”
The Associated Press has called several of Idaho’s top races - it’s declared Sen. Mike Crapo a winner, winning a third term in the U.S. Senate; along with 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, winning another term in the House; and the AP has declared Gov. Butch Otter the winner in his bid for second term - though only a small fraction of Idaho’s votes have been counted. The AP’s projection was based on exit polls along with the earliest results.
Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred, shown here greeting supporters at the Idaho Democratic Party’s campaign headquarters at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel in Boise, said of his first run for office, “It’s been exciting and a lot more fun than I thought.”
Check back here later for election results; for now, there’s still an hour of voting left in southern Idaho and two hours in North Idaho. It could be a long night ahead. Among the factors threatening to make the vote-tallying take extra-long: Write-in candidates in two key races in Kootenai County, for a county commission seat (incumbent Rick Currie is the write-in, challenging Jai Nelson, who beat him in the GOP primary) and for a legislative seat (write-in Howard Griffiths challenging state Rep. Phil Hart). Kootenai County is part of the 1st Congressional District, where the hot race is between freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick and GOP challenger Raul Labrador.
Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com from Saturday’s paper on the outside ads being run against Democratic candidate for governor, Keith Allred, thanks to a big cash infusion to the Idaho Republican Party from the Republican Governors Association. And here’s a link to my Sunday Handle Extra column on the upcoming elections in Idaho, including new voter ID requirements and a rundown of contested legislative races in North Idaho.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s election, Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is predicting strong voter turnout for a non-presidential year election, with 63 to 64 percent of registered voters casting ballots, “which would be our highest non-presidential year turnout since ‘94.”
“Candidates and issues make turnout,” Ysursa said, “and I think we’ve got competitive races out there that are driving the turnout.” Among the many decisions awaiting Idaho voters are whether to keep or replace the state’s governor and members of Congress, four state constitutional amendments, races for an array of county and statewide offices, and votes on every seat in the state Legislature. There’s more information on all of those in our online Voter Guide here; and there’s info for voters on the state’s voter information site here.