Special coverage

Idaho Politics

Political and legislative news out of Idaho.

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Semanko: Low turnout a disappointment

Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko says his party will come together no matter which candidate wins the hard-fought congressional primary between Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward; the latest results, with 89 percent of precincts reporting, show Labrador with 46 percent to 40 percent for Ward. “It’s been interesting, here you had one person (Ward) who got in very early, several people who got in in the middle period, and one person (Labrador), very late,” Semanko said. “I don’t think there’s a right way to do it.”

He said his one disappointment about the primary is the low turnout: “There’s so much attention and so much focus, and yet the turnout is so low.”

Otter: ‘Lead nation out of recession’

Gov. Butch Otter was very much in evidence throughout the evening at the GOP election night gathering tonight, as both he and First Lady Lori Otter celebrated with supporters, posed for pictures and more. When he took the podium to accept his party’s nomination, he acknowledged “some tough calls” during his term. “Miss Lori and I and our family are grateful once again for your vote of confidence,” Otter said. “We do know that we’ve got a lot of work to go forward, but I want to tell you that this party has stood tall in the past four sessions of the Legislature … to provide the leadership to this state. … Because of the heavy lifting that we’ve had to do, and we did it alone, the state Legislature and myself have set this state on a course so that when we come out of this recession, Idaho is going to lead us out of this recession, we’re going to lead this nation out of the recession.”

Allred chooses working party for primary night

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred held a different kind of election-night gathering tonight - he and volunteers gathered at his campaign headquarters, where they stuffed envelopes, fielded calls and worked on a mailing and other projects. Longtime Democratic activist Betty Richardson said it was the first working party for election night she could recall.

“I’m grateful for the support from Idahoans in today’s primary,” Allred said in a statement. “Now, I invite Idahoans of all political stripes to join me in the months ahead. I’m committed to working harder than ever to make Idaho’s government work for all of us.  Idahoans’ interests must come ahead of special interests and partisan politics. Idahoans want their schools properly funded and they want their governor to have a plan for boosting Idaho’s economy and creating new jobs. I’m excited to work with Idahoans to find practical solutions that work for everyone.”

Ullman: ‘An incredible experience’

With 509 of 936 precincts reporting, Gov. Butch Otter, who’s already been declared the winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary, had 55 percent. Here’s how his five challengers did: Rex Rammell, 25.2 percent; Sharon Ullman, 8 percent; Ron “Pete” Peterson, 5.7 percent; and both Walt Bayes and Tamara Wells, 3.1 percent. Ullman, an Ada County commissioner, shown here, said, “It’s been an incredible experience. We’ve met wonderful people around the state, had fabulous support from the people I’ve spoken with. I learned a great deal.”

1st District race down to the wire…

The contentious race for the GOP nomination for North Idaho’s seat in Congress is going down to the wire tonight, as Idaho voters held a typically low-turnout primary election with big consequences; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. Up and down the ticket, the election set the stage for major contests in November, while writing the final chapter in other races, including a contested non-partisan race for the Idaho Supreme Court. In that contest, Justice Roger Burdick defeated his challenger, 2nd District Judge John Bradbury; the Associated Press has just called that race.

The 1st District congressional race saw Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador vying for the chance to challenge freshman 1st District Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick in November; Minnick, who was unopposed in the primary, is launching his re-election campaign with a series of appearances around the district over the next week. In early results, Labrador led Ward, 44 percent to 42 percent, setting the stage for a possible come-from-behind victory despite Ward’s large fundraising lead and early start.

Jay Leno mocks Ward in monologue

On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight, Leno played the entire video mashup that juxtaposes clips of Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic national convention speech with similar turns of phrase in a speech by Idaho GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward at the Idaho state capitol this spring, a mashup put together by Idaho GOP legislative candidate Lucas Baumbach. Leno’s kicker: “When they asked this guy if he thought he could get away with this, he said, ‘Yes I can! Yes I can!’”

Ward arrives at GOP gathering

Congressional candidate Vaughn Ward has finally arrived at the GOP headquarters gathering, just after 10:30 Boise time. The latest results, with just 22 percent of the vote counted, show Labrador leading Ward, 44 percent to 42 percent. At this point, this race is too close to call.

Allred, Little win primaries

The Associated Press has now declared Keith Allred the winner of the Democratic gubernatorial primary, defeating Lee Chaney Sr., and Lt. Gov. Brad Little victorious in the GOP primary, defeating two challengers.

No sign of Ward so far…

While GOP candidates including congressional hopeful Raul Labrador, Gov. Butch Otter, state Treasurer Ron Crane, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Controller Donna Jones, gubernatorial hopeful Rex Rammell, and even former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig have been mingling with the crowd at the GOP election-night headquarters at the Doubletree Riverside in Boise, there’s been no sign as yet of 1st District hopeful Vaughn Ward, a notable absence.

First election results: AP calls primary for Crapo

The first few election results are in, and the Associated Press has called the U.S. Senate GOP primary in favor of the incumbent, Sen. Mike Crapo, who had about 80 percent of the vote over Claude “Skip” Davis in early results. Ada County also has released its first batch of absentee voting results; they show incumbent Idaho Supreme Court Justice Roger Burdick leading 2nd District Judge John Bradbury, 3,708 to 2,033.

Ysursa: Turnout reports suggest ‘kinda quiet’

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa has made his victory speech - he was unopposed in the GOP primary. “I’ve been on pins and needles all night,” Ysursa joked, joined by his wife Penny. Asked about the turnout in today’s primary election, Ysursa said, “We hear there are pockets of good turnout, but … it’s hard to tell. I hope I’m wrong - I hope we’re higher than 26 percent. We’ll see.”

Ysursa has been predicting a 26 percent turnout of registered voters in today’s primary, a typically low Idaho primary election turnout. “The calls were it was kind of an uneventful day,” Ysursa said. “It was kinda quiet.”

Labrador: ‘We had a lot of enthusiasm’

Congressional candidate Raul Labrador is happily visiting with supporters tonight at the Doubletree Riverside, where Republicans are gathering to watch the election-night results. “I think we’ve done a great job,” Labrador said. “We had such limited fundraising but as you can tell, we had a lot of enthusiasm. We’ve got a lot of people who really believe in my message, and they believe I’ve been principled in everything I’ve done.” Labrador had no comment on national political blogs that today have been sharply mocking his GOP primary opponent, Vaughn Ward, for everything from his campaign flubs to a video mash-up created by an Idaho legislative candidate stringing together similar turns of phrase between a Ward speech and Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention speech.

Said Labrador, “My goal is to help Republicans get elected, whatever happens.”

Candidate clarifies business history

Tamara Wells, a hairdresser from Post Falls who is running in tomorrow’s GOP primary for governor, now says she hasn’t owned her prosthetic wig shop in Hayden, “Tamara’s,” for 41 years, as she told me last week and as I reported in my Sunday column. “I have been in business for 41 years, and I’ve been here 15 years owning and operating my own business, but I’ve rented space,” Wells told Eye on Boise today. She said she purchased the building for her business in Hayden six years ago, and before that rented space in other salons. Earlier, she was in southern California.

Poll: Ward, Labrador in dead heat in 1st CD

The Idaho Statesman and KBOI TV Channel 2 have commissioned a statewide poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, a national polling company based in Washington, D.C., in advance of Tuesday’s primary election, and the results are darn interesting. In the 1st District congressional race, among likely voters in Idaho’s Republican primary in the district, the poll found 31 percent favoring Vaughn Ward, 28 percent for Raul Labrador, 37 percent undecided and 4 percent for Harley Brown. That’s a statistical dead heat - the difference between Ward and Labrador falls within the poll’s margin of error. You can read the Statesman’s full coverage of the poll here.

In the governor’s race, the poll showed Gov. Butch Otter with 60 percent, 25 percent undecided, and none of the five GOP challengers rising beyond single digits, with Rex Rammell highest at 6 percent followed by Sharon Ullman at 4 percent (my column taking a look at the primary race for governor runs in Sunday’s paper; you can read it here). In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Mike Simpson was at 62 percent, undecided 23 percent, and challengers in single digits. The poll showed the contested Supreme Court race also in a dead heat, at least among Republican primary voters (it’s a non-partisan race); incumbent Roger Burdick had 24 percent, challenger John Bradbury 20 percent, and 56 percent were undecided.

Ward: ‘She didn’t benefit from coming here’

After the Sarah Palin rally, candidate Vaughn Ward was surrounded by supporters, well-wishers, a few folks who wanted to argue politics, and a lot of youngsters who wanted autographs on signs and brochures and a picture with the candidate. Ward said he was thrilled with the turnout. “We only had about 48 hours to put it together,” he said. “People were excited.” He said of Palin, “She’s an Idaho girl, she’s probably one of Idaho’s most famous daughters, and Idaho people get excited about that.”

Dennis Mansfield, spokesman for the campaign of Ward’s GOP primary opponent, Raul Labrador, said,  “Idaho was honored to have Sarah Palin come to the capital city of Boise today. She came for the wrong candidate, though.”

Of the 1,500 to 2,000 people in the arena for the rally, about half were in floor seats that cost $10 a head, while the others filled free seats on risers along the side. Money raised by the event, including $250 tickets to a VIP reception beforehand and $1,000 apiece for those who wanted their photos taken with Palin - at least 50 lined up for the privilege - went to the Ward campaign. The campaign said Palin didn’t charge a speaking fee and instead made a donation to the campaign, and the $10 tickets went to cover the cost of the event. “She didn’t benefit from coming here,” Ward said after the rally. “She benefited from trying to help out a candidate she believes in.”

Palin bashes media, rallies crowd for Ward

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin had harsh words for the “lamestream media” and the liberal left as gave an enthusiastic speech rallying voters for GOP congressional candidate Vaughn Ward in Boise today. “The left and some of the lamestream media, they can really play dirty sometimes, trust me on this one, I know this one,” Palin told a crowd of about 1,500 at the Qwest Arena in downtown Boise, who punctuated her speech with applause and cheers but remained seated until its end. Ward, who headed the McCain-Palin presidential campaign in Nevada in 2008, is facing state Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Eagle, in Idaho’s primary election on Tuesday for a chance to challenge freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Palin: ‘You can keep the change’

“I like those bumper stickers that say, ‘You can keep the change,’” Sarah Palin told the crowd in Boise. She called Vaughn Ward “the real deal,” saying he’s pro-gun and pro-life. “Vaughn has been courageous enough to serve our country and fight for you, fight for all Americans, serving in the Iraq war,” she said. “Those are the qualities we need in leaders today who like Vaughn can go to Washington and take back a majority for common-sense conservatives, who understand the constitution, and they understand that freedom isn’t free, freedom is a God-given right and is worth fighting for.” That won Palin a loud cheer and round of applause.

Next speaker at Ward-Palin rally: Luna

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna is the next speaker at the Ward-Palin rally, starting by talking about the importance of education. Then he said, “Folks, if we’re going to keep the promise to the rising generation, then we have to put an end to the insanity in Washington, D.C. … We must hold all politicians accountable and we must hold all political parties accountable.” He garnered cheers and applause.

McGee takes podium to start rally

The Ward campaign is estimating there are 1,500 people at the rally, which is starting now with state Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, taking the podium. “Canyon County is Vaughn Ward country,” he declared; Canyon County is where McGee is from, though the rally is taking place in Boise, which is in Ada County. “This is the most Republican state in the union and it’s time to send a Republican back to represent us in the 1st Congressional District,” McGee said; he then introduced former Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa to lead the pledge of allegiance, which was followed by an invocation.

Between 1,000 and 1,100 in arena

There now appear to be nearly 400 people sitting in the free seats in the risers around the floor of the Qwest Arena for the Sarah Palin-Vaughn Ward rally, and another 650 or so in the $10 seats on the floor, for a total of between 1,000 and 1,100. The word is that both Ward and Palin are now in the building; the band just led a Ward sign-waving chorus to the lyrics, “Go Vaughn Ward,” and then wrapped up.