BOISE – Every seat in the Idaho Legislature is up for election in the upcoming May primary, as are two congressional seats, an open U.S. Senate seat, and positions from county commissioner to Supreme Court justice.
The filing period for candidates opens today, and candidates have through 5 p.m. on March 21 to file if they want to run. That includes both partisan candidates running in the primary election, and independent candidates who want to appear on the ballot for the Nov. 7 general election.
Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said he’s seeing lots of interest in this year’s primary, in part because of the presidential election. “We’ll see some of these other races heat up between now and May,” he said.
Ysursa is predicting voter turnout in the low 30s – not great, but higher than the last presidential primary election year, in which just 27 percent of registered Idaho voters went to the polls. “I hate to say that’s a great turnout, but it’s a pretty good turnout for the primary,” he said.
The primary, however, will set the stage in many ways for what’s expected to be a record-setting election in November. “We’re telling clerks, ‘Get geared up, fasten your seat belts,’ ” Ysursa said.
Idaho’s May 27 primary ballot will include presidential races for both Democrats and Republicans, but because Idaho’s Democratic delegates already were decided in caucuses, it’s just a “beauty contest” on the Democratic side, and doesn’t count. However, Idaho Republicans will apportion their presidential delegates based on the primary results even though U.S. Sen. John McCain has essentially locked up the party’s nomination.
All of North Idaho’s state legislators say they plan to seek re-election. Both senators and state representatives stand for election every two years.
The incumbents who are running again are:
District 1: Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Reps. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, and George Eskridge, R-Dover.
District 2: Sen. Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, and Reps. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, and Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries.
District 3: Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, and Reps. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake, and Phil Hart, R-Athol.
District 4: Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Reps. Marge Chadderdon, R-Coeur d’Alene, and George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene.
District 5: Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Post Falls, and Reps. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls.
District 6: Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, and Reps. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, and Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow.
Federal races include the open race for the seat now held by retiring U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, which a parade of candidates are seeking, and re-election bids by GOP Congressmen Bill Sali and Mike Simpson. Two Democrats, Larry Grant and Walt Minnick, are facing off for the right to challenge Sali in November.
County offices on this year’s ballot include county commissioners, prosecutors and sheriffs. Two of the three Kootenai County Commission seats are on the ballot and by Friday afternoon seven candidates had announced.
Two Republicans are challenging Chairman Rick Currie in the May primary, former Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Tom Cronin and rural neighborhood advocate Jai Nelson.
One Democrat, Steve Caires, has announced his intention to seek the seat.
Commissioner Todd Tondee, a Republican, so far has two challengers including Post Falls real estate agent Tim Herzog. Democrat Bruce Noble, an engineer, has announced he will seek the position as well.
Longtime Prosecutor Bill Douglas isn’t seeking re-election. Republican Barry McHugh announced his candidacy in January. Republican Sheriff Rocky Watson is so far running unopposed.
The May primary ballot also is the final election for three non-partisan judicial posts, those of Idaho Supreme Court Justices Joel Horton and Warren Jones and Idaho Appeals Court Judge Sergio Gutierrez.
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