BOISE — Sherri Ybarra has won a close Republican primary for superintendent of public instruction, setting up what could be one of the most competitive statewide races in November.
Ybarra, of Mountain Home, took 28 percent of Tuesday’s vote. Randy Jensen of American Falls was in second place with just over 24 percent, followed by John Eynon, of Cottonwood, with 24 percent and Andy Grover, of Melba, with 23 percent. All four of the candidates came with experience as educators but no political background.
Democratic challenger Jana Jones ran unopposed in the primary. Jones barely lost to incumbent Tom Luna in 2006 and is expected to be a strong candidate in the general election. Luna opted not to run for a third term.
The Gem State is one of 13 states where the superintendent of public instruction is an elected office.
The superintendent serves a four-year term, must be at least 25, a U.S. citizen and hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college. Before two-term incumbent Tom Luna took office, most superintendents had some education experience. However, Luna broke that trend when he was elected to the post in 2006 as the state’s first non-educator.
The superintendent also sits on the Idaho Land Board with the governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state controller. The board oversees management of state trust lands, which help fund K-12 public schools.
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