With fourth-term Republican Rep. Marge Chadderdon of Coeur d’Alene stepping down, the only contested race in the primary for Idaho’s legislative District 4 this year is between the two young Republicans vying for a shot at replacing her.
Chadderdon has endorsed Luke Malek, 30, a local attorney and business consultant who rose to prominence in political circles when then-Gov. Jim Risch named him his North Idaho regional director, heading up the state’s first North Idaho governor’s office.
Malek faces Jeff Ames, 40, in the GOP primary, who owns Lake City Gymnastics and, like Malek, is making his first run for office. But Ames filed at the last minute and hasn’t actively campaigned; he was a no-show at the sole face-to-face campaign event in the race, a “Conservative Candidate Forum” sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots of North Idaho, though he had said he’d attend.
“I got into this race literally 5 minutes before the deadline of the closing for signing up,” Ames said, after friends urged him to run. He said his two daughters, ages 12 and 13, are high-level gymnastics competitors, and the press of helping them prepare for eliminations for national-team tryouts took precedence over his political run.
“I just couldn’t make it,” he said. “My family comes first, especially at this stage where it’s a last-minute campaign.”
Malek said he was disappointed, “because I’ve been looking forward to meeting my opponent and having some discourse.”
Malek said he has been “trying to get out there as much as possible, meet people, talk about issues that matter to people. So I’ve really been enjoying it, but it isn’t what I expected from a competitive standpoint.”
The winner of the two-way GOP primary will face two other candidates in November for the open seat: Democrat Janet Callen, and Constitution Party candidate Ray Writz, both of Coeur d’Alene.
District 4 takes in the city of Coeur d’Alene. Though since the 2010 election it’s been represented entirely by Republicans, the district had at least one Democrat in its three-member legislative delegation for the previous eight years; from 2002 to 2004, it was represented by one Republican and two Democrats.
Malek has been endorsed by the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans; the North Idaho Political Action Committee, a GOP group; and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a powerful lobbying group that represents the state’s largest businesses.
“Jobs is really going to be my main focus,” Malek said. “I’m going to be working with both business leaders and groups like IACI that understand what we can do to bring jobs back in. I don’t have any particular legislation right now, but I’m going to be helping to push forward a job-friendly agenda.”
Malek said, “I was raised in Idaho, my family’s all here. I feel that my upbringing gives me a unique ability to understand the values that are truly Idahoan.”
Ames said, “I am just a regular guy, I’m not a politician. I keep up on political issues and I think the government needs more just regular citizens.”
He said, “My main concern is stopping bad legislation from getting in.”