Idaho’s May primary ballot will be a crowded one, with an array of contested races from governor and Congress to North Idaho legislative seats.
Outside the Idaho Secretary of State’s office a half-hour before the 5 p.m. filing deadline on Friday, former House Minority Leader John Rusche said he’d just filed to run for his old seat, challenging current Rep. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston, who defeated Rusche two years ago. “I didn’t feel well served by my legislator the last two years,” Rusche said with a grin.
At the top of the ticket, three Democrats and seven Republicans will vie for governor, while three Democrats and six Republicans will face off for North Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat.
Meanwhile, lively legislative races are shaping up around the state and in every North Idaho district, with former lawmakers Phil Hart, Kathy Sims and Shannon McMillan trying for comebacks and newcomers crowding races for three open seats.
Sitting North Idaho legislators facing primary challenges include Reps. Heather Scott, Vito Barbieri, Priscilla Giddings and Paul Shepherd, and Sens. Mary Souza and Dan Foreman.
Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney worked the front desk as the final filers came in, relishing the activity. “It’s fun,” he said. Asked if there were any surprises, he said, “There’s going to be a lot of Democratic primaries,” and added, “There’s always Republican primaries.”
Denney joked, “This is the most work I’ve done in a long time.”
Here are the contested races, in both parties, for statewide offices, North Idaho legislative seats and Kootenai County offices:
Democrats: Boise businessman and longtime school board member A.J. Balukoff, who also ran four years ago against current Gov. Butch Otter; former state Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer; and Peter Dill, an attorney and organic farmer from Emmett who just announced his candidacy on Friday.
Republicans: Boise businessman and physician Tommy Ahlquist; 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador; Lt. Gov. Brad Little; and lesser-known candidates Steve Pankey of Twin Falls; Lisa Marie of Boise; Ben Cannady Dalton of Boise; and Harley Brown of Nampa.
1st DISTRICT CONGRESS
Democrats: Christina McNeil, Boise; Michael W. Smith, Post Falls; and James Vandermaas, Eagle.
Republicans: Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; former Idaho Attorney General and Lt. Gov. David Leroy; state Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene; Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa; author Michael Snyder of Bonners Ferry; Nick Henderson of Post Falls; and Alex Gallegos of Nampa.
Democrats: Kristin Collum, Boise; and Jim Fabe, Sun Valley.
Republicans: State Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; former state Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls; Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene; Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon; former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates of Idaho Falls; and Ada County Highway District Commissioner Rebecca Arnold, who hadn’t announced before she filed for the seat late Friday afternoon.
SECRETARY OF STATE
While incumbent Lawerence Denney is unopposed in the GOP primary, two Democrats filed: Joseph J.P. Chastain and Jill Humble, both of Boise.
Three Republicans filed for the open seat: Businessman and retired CPA Tom Kealey, Ada County Treasurer Vicky McIntyre and former state Rep. Julie Ellsworth, all of Boise.
STATE SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT
Republicans: Incumbent Sherri Ybarra; challenger Jeff Dillon, the Wilder school district superintendent
Democrats: High school government teacher Cindy Wilson, Meridian; retired hospital manager Allen Humble, Boise.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 1
Senate: Three Republicans, Danielle Ahrens of Sandpoint and Scott Herndon and Jim Woodward of Sagle, are vying for the open seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. Democrat Vera Gadman of Hope is unopposed.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, faces a GOP primary challenge from Mike Boeck of Sandpoint; while two Democrats are facing off, Bob Vickaryous of Bonners Ferry and Ellen Weissman of Sandpoint.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 2
Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, faces a primary challenge from repeat challenger Fritz Wiedenhoff of Rathdrum.
The open seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Eric Redman, R-Athol, has drawn two Republicans, repeat candidate John Green and newcomer Doug “Doug O” Okuniewicz of Hayden; and two Democrats, repeat candidate Richard Kohles of Hayden and newcomer Alanna Brooks of Coeur d’Alene.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 3
Two Republicans are vying for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, who’s running for the open Senate seat: Former state Rep. Kathy Sims and Tony Wisniewski of Post Falls.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 4
Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, faces a primary challenge from Coeur d’Alene businessman Michael Pereira.
Two Democrats are seeking the House seat being vacated by Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, who’s running for Congress: Janie N. Hansen and Rebecca Schroeder. Republican hopeful Jim Addis is unopposed in the primary.
First-term Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene, is being challenged in the GOP primary by Roger Garlock.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 5
Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow, faces a primary challenge from former Moscow Mayor Marshall Comstock; Democratic hopeful David Nelson is unopposed.
Two Republicans, Bill Goesling of Moscow and Hari Heath of Santa, are vying for the House, with Democratic Rep. Margie Gannon of St. Maries, who replaced former Rep. Paulette Jordan, unopposed.
Two Democrats, Terry Hardman of Desmet and Laurene Sorensen of Moscow, are vying for the chance to challenge Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee in November.
LEGISLATURE, DISTRICT 7
Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, faces two primary challengers: Ryan Lawrence of Kendrick, and former state Rep. Shannon McMillan of Silverton, whom Giddings defeated two years ago.
Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, faces a primary challenge from former Athol Rep. Phil Hart, who now lives in Kellogg.
KOOTENAI COUNTY COMMISSIONER
There are two contested GOP primary races for Kootenai County commissioner. In District 2, incumbent Marc Eberlein faces a challenge from Bill Brooks of Coeur d’Alene.
In District 3, incumbent Bob Bingham faces four primary challengers: Leslie Duncan of Hayden; Russell McClain of Coeur d’Alene; Luke Sommer of Hayden; and Robert E. Thornton of Athol.