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Idaho lieutenant governor hopeful drops out of crowded race

UPDATED: Mon., April 16, 2018, 9:44 p.m.

Rebecca Arnold
Rebecca Arnold

BOISE - When the filing period for Idaho lieutenant governor arrived last month, five Republicans already were crowded into the race, and a sixth joined them as the filing period closed – current Ada County Highway District Commissioner Rebecca Arnold, an attorney and former unsuccessful candidate for district judge.

But now it’s back to just the five: Sens. Bob Nonini of Coeur d’Alene and Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon and former Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls, and former Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates.

Arnold withdrew about a week after she filed, and her name won’t appear on the May 15 primary election ballot.

“My mother has been very sick and she’s in Kentucky,” Arnold told The Spokesman-Review. “I just, I couldn’t. I’ve run a lot of campaigns before and I know how to do it, but I just didn’t feel like I could take money from people if I couldn’t put 100 percent into the campaign.”

So why did Arnold file for the part-time post, which includes presiding over the Senate, breaking tie votes there, and filling in for the governor when the governor’s out of state?

“I didn’t see a strong front-runner in the race, and I still don’t,” she said. “And I think it’s an important position. I mean, there are some qualified candidates, no doubt, but I just don’t see a strong front-runner there.”

The post is open because current Lt. Gov. Brad Little is running for governor.

Arnold, who is past president of the Idaho Association of Highway Districts, said her top issue in the campaign would have been funding for local transportation improvements.

“We have to come up with a better way,” she said. “Property tax is just not the way to do it. We have to move to a more user-based system for paying for our transportation improvements, and we are only continuing to get more behind. And I don’t see any of these candidates talking about that.”

When Arnold, whose current ACHD commissioner term runs through 2020, was asked if she sees herself running for higher office in the future, she said, “Possibly.”

In addition to the five Republicans vying for the post, two Democrats are running: Kristin Collum, a U.S. Army veteran and software engineer from Boise, and Jim Fabe, a dentist from Sun Valley who also is an Army veteran.