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Former Sen. Watkins Drops From 2nd District Congressional Race

The Republican congressional primary in Idaho’s 2nd District narrowed to three candidates with former state Sen. Dane Watkins’ decision not to enter the race, citing his wife’s illness.

Watkins, a businessman who served from 1973 through 1986 in the Idaho Senate, said his wife of 34 years, Sherry, began radiation treatment Tuesday for breast cancer that was diagnosed last September.

He had planned to announce his candidacy Tuesday in Boise.

“It’s a major decision. We had our letterhead and everything ready to go,” Watkins said. “But as we sat up at midnight last night, I knew in my heart I couldn’t go to Boise when she’s going to the tumor institute.”

He said doctors believe his wife’s cancer is “entirely treatable and curable,” but that it was more important that he help in her recovery than run for Congress.

“My first commitment is to her and to make sure she gets back on the high road,” Watkins said. “She’s my number one priority.”

His decision not to enter the race, coupled with last week’s announcement by state Sen. Stan Hawkins of Ucon that he would not be a candidate, left the GOP field to Idaho House Speaker Michael Simpson of Blackfoot, state Rep. Mark Stubbs of Twin Falls and former state senator Ann Rydalch of Idaho Falls.

Former four-term congressman Richard Stallings, now the head of a Pocatello affordable housing agency, has the Democratic primary to himself in the conservative eastern and southern Idaho district.

The seat is open because three-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael Crapo is running for the U.S. Senate seat being given up by fellow Republican Dirk Kempthorne, who is seeking to succeed GOP Gov. Phil Batt.

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