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Labrador, Farris face off in lively debate

1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador and Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris faced off in a lively debate tonight on Idaho Public Television. Among the highlights: Labrador called for raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70 and cutting a third of the staff at the Pentagon; and said he backs banning all abortions except to save the life of the mother. Farris opposed raising the retirement age and instead called for raising the cap on earnings taxed for Social Security; and agreed with Labrador that cuts in defense spending could reduce waste. Labrador said, “The first decision I made in Congress was to actually listen to Walt Minnick,” his Democratic predecessor, who urged him to hire his constituent services chief. “She has been the best decision I made as a congressman,” Labrador said.

I'll have a full report tomorrow. For more on the Idaho Debates, click here.

Otter on election results: Forget the sour grapes and chest-thumping

In a new opinion piece today, Gov. Butch Otter says he’s “read all the postmortems and punditry about the ‘meaning’ of the November 2nd election results,” and declares, “I believe most of it is well-intentioned, although there certainly is a fair amount of cynicism, condescension and sour grapes involved. And yes, there has been a little chest thumping too. None of it is warranted.”

Otter says, “The truth is that each of us from our own perspective – regardless of our political affiliation – are doing our level best to make Idaho a better place for our children and grandchildren than it is today. We agree on more than we disagree, and we mutually embrace more values than divide us.” Click below to read his full op-ed article.

Hoffman: Voters Want Cut, Cut, Cut

The untold and certainly most important story from the 2010 General Election in Idaho is this: Not a single representative, senator or executive branch official who supported significant reductions in government spending lost re-election Nov. 2. That’s a fact. Voters rewarded those politicians who stood strong against raising taxes and re-elected candidates with an established record of cutting government spending. This, of course, includes the much-ballyhooed  decision to cut public education funding by 7.5 percent/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.

Question: Is Wayne right — that Idahoans are only interested in cutting government, including education?

Was 2010 Campaign Rife w/Sexism?

Republican Sen.-elect Kelly Ayotte and some supporters hold signs in Manchester, N.H., to thank voters Wednesday. Even though many high-profile women ran for office, feminists say the 2010 campaign was rife with sexism ranging from snarky fashion critiques to sexual innuendo. And when all the ballots are counted, women may end up with fewer seats in Congress than they started with. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, File)

Question: Do you agree with feminists that sexism against female candidates was rampant during the 2010 campaign?

Herb: Didn’t Vote? Shut Yur Pie Hole

Some folks are ecstatic over results while others walk away saddened with the realization that it wasn’t their turn.Those who voted and are upset can at least hold their collective heads up high with the knowledge that they participated in democracy. For those that are disappointed and didn’t vote, shut yur pie hole. You didn’t participate and have absolutely no standing in this exercise. The Republic and it’s subdivisions have spoken and as the saying goes, “It is what it is”/Herb Huseland, Bay Views. More here.

Question: Do you know people who don’t vote, yet complain about the results?

Idaho Blogs: GOP More In Control

If (Tuesday’s) election in Idaho had been a Little League baseball game, it would have been called on account of the ten run rule. …  As elections go, this one was a tidal wave. The huge Republican majorities in the Idaho Legislature will soon enough face big challenges, including more budget cutting - potentially including education and social services - but the GOP and Gov. Butch Otter can bask, for a while at least, in the sure knowledge that voters were in no mood to punish them for historic cuts in school spending or for presiding over a still struggling economy. Quite the contrary, Idaho Republicans seem more dominate than ever against a dispirited, disorganized opposition/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Post. More here. (AP/Idaho Press-Tribune Photo by Greg Kreller: U.S. Congressman-elect Raul Labrador and his wife Rebecca.)

Question: Which wing is going to win the struggle for supremacy among Idaho Republicans — Tea Party or moderates?

Semanko, Roark to analyze election results, take calls tonight

Idaho’s state Republican and Democratic party chairmen - Norm Semanko and Keith Roark - will analyze the election results and take calls from viewers tonight on Idaho Public Television’s “Dialogue” with host Marcia Franklin; there’s more info here.  The show airs live at 8:30 p.m. Mountain time, 7:30 Pacific; to join the conversation, you can email your questions in before the show to dialogue@idahoptv.org, or call in live during the show, toll free, at (800) 973-9800.

Mapping the vote: 6th District House race


Republican challenger and former state Rep. John Ahern is comfortably ahead of incumbent Democrat in the 6th District House race. As this computer mapping of their vote totals shows, Ahern has large vote margins on the edges of the City of Spokane and beyond, while Driscoll’s strength is inside the city limits, particularly on the lower South Hill.

Hucks Poll: Not Happy With Election

  • Wednesday Poll: A majority of Hucks Nation either didn’t like the results of the 2010 election or had a mixed view of it. 84 of 195 respondents (43%) said they didn’t like the outcome. 59 of 195 (30%) said they had a mixed reaction to the results. 49 of 195 (25%), however, said they were happy with the results. 3 respondents were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll: What will House Speaker Lawerence Denney do with Rep. Phil Hart next week? Slap his wrist? Remove him from Rev & Tax Committee? Nothing?

Idaho’s first Hispanic congressman-elect says vote sent message about state

Idaho elected its first Hispanic to represent the state in Congress on Tuesday, as Raul Labrador upset freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick with a decisive 51 percent to 41.3 percent victory. Labrador, a conservative Republican state lawmaker and immigration attorney who charged during the race that Minnick’s attack ads against him had racial overtones, said he thought the “first” was significant because it sent a message to the nation about Idahoans.

“People have such a bad connotation of what Idaho represents,” Labrador said, “a bad place, a racist place. I can’t think of a better message for Idaho to send than to send a young man who was born in Puerto Rico, was raised in Las Vegas and was adopted by this state.” Tony Stewart, a founding board member of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, said the election result is one of a long string of firsts in Idaho’s history that belie the state’s image, which was tarnished by the presence in the 1990s of a small but violent group of white supremacists.

Idaho elected the nation’s first Jewish governor, Moses Alexander, in 1914, and the nation’s first Native American attorney general, Larry EchoHawk, in 1990. It’s also elected Native Americans to the state Legislature and at one time elected a high percentage of women to the Legislature compared to other states. “So there’s a track record there of looking at the merits of how people are seen as candidates, and they’re not basing it on race, but on the issues,” Stewart said. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Marr concedes to Baumgartner

Democrat state Sen. Chris Marr made up some ground in Wednesday’s counting against Republican Michael Baumgartner, but Marr said it won’t be enough.

Marr conceded defeat a few moments ago in an interview with KHQ.

His campaign just released this statement:

“No matter the outcome of this election, our hopes and aspirations have not changed. Our belief in the people of Washington and this great city has not diminished. Our responsibility to offer ideas instead of attacks and compromise instead of gridlock has not gone away. Our dedication to serve our community has not waivered.  I ask all of my supporters to join me in congratulating State Senator-elect Michael Baumgartner and committing to work with him to advance the common interests of the citizens of Spokane and the Sixth Legislative District.”

Mapping the vote: Spokane County assessor race

Challenger Vicki Horton is leading incumbent assessor Ralph Baker in many precincts throughout the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake, as well as much of the unincorporated area.

For this map, because both candidates are Republicans, we opted out of the standard red and blue format (we didn’t want to decide which Republican deserved the red shades.) Instead, we used green for Horton and brown/tan for Baker, with gray for precincts where they are currently tied.

GOP tide sweeps out six-term lawmaker

The Republican sweep of Idaho’s elections on Tuesday carried off one of North Idaho’s longest-serving lawmakers, a Democrat who often voted with the Republicans and whose campaign slogan was “as independent as Idaho.” Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, lost her bid for a seventh term in the Idaho House to political newcomer Shannon McMillan, who won with 54.9 percent of the vote. It was one of five seats Republicans picked up in the Idaho House while holding even in the Senate, boosting their supermajority in the Legislature from three-quarters of the seats to four-fifths.

Shepherd, 77, a retired restaurant/tavern owner who’s served in the House since 1999, said she’d never heard of McMillan before the campaign. “It doesn’t seem to matter what you do or how you do, it’s if you have a big ‘R’ or not,” Shepherd said. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Mapping the vote: Spokane County commissioner race


The race for Spokane County commissioner, between incumbent Democrat Bonnie Mager and Republican challenger Al French, is currently close, with French holding a lead of about 1,000 votes.

But it wasn’t close all over the county. As the map of the ballots counted Tuesday night, French scored victories in much of the suburban and rural areas while Mager did better in many Spokane city precincts.

Mid-term turnout highest in Spokane County since 1970

Election officials say a big surge of votes in the final day likely will push voter turnout over 70 percent in Spokane County.

Election drop boxes in a few cases filled up, and election workers had to make extra trips to collect them, said Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton. About 30,000 ballots were collected from the drop boxes on Tuesday. The drop boxes, which hold about 1,600 ballots, are located at all libraries, the elections office and at the downtown Spokane Transit Authority Plaza.

Turout in the 2006 mid-term was 67 percent. It was only 59 percent in 2002 and 1998. In the last large GOP wave, in 1994, turnout was 68 percent. The last time mid-term turnout topped 70 percent was in 1970 when 72 percent cast ballots.

More voters in this election opted to use ballot boxes than usual. Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expects that once all the ballots have been received that about 40 percent of them will have been dropped off in the boxes.

The drop boxes offer voters the opportunity to cast ballots without buying stamps.

 

Victorious Republicans rally on state Capitol steps

Victorious Republican candidates gathered on the Statehouse steps for a rally today, where Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko declared, “Last night was the biggest victory in the history of Idaho Republican politics.” Newly elected 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador said he can now remove the bright red “Fire Pelosi” pin he’s been wearing on his lapel for the last few weeks. “We have done the job and I can take it off, because the mission has been finished,” Labrador declared. Newly re-elected Gov. Bucth Otter said, “Our focus for the next four years … is to continue on exactly what we’ve started the last four years.”

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, who won a third term in the Senate, said, “I think the message from America, which is the same message that people here in Idaho were sending us, is that we need to get to work. … My hope is that we can now get down to work, to work across party lines, develop consensus-based, conservative, constitutional focused solutions to the issues facing our nation. We can do it, we will do it.”

Baumgartner’s lead appears insurmountable; City isn’t underrepresented in vote totals

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At the end of counting last night, many local Democrats said they suspected that votes from the city of Spokane were under-represented in Tuesday’s counts.

Since the city leans strongly in favor of Democrats, that would bode well for the party in later counts. But Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton said Wednesday that as of the end of counting on Tuesday, city votes were counted around the same rate as those from outside city limits.

That was true even in the 6th Legislative District, she said. That’s where Republican Michael Baumgartner is beating Democratic state Sen. Chris Marr, 56 percent to 44 percent. It’s also where Republican John Ahern was beating Democratic state Rep. John Driscoll, 54 percent to 46 percent.

In the Republican-leaning 4th District, 59 percent of the ballots received as of yesterday have been counted. In the Democratic-leaning 3rd, about 57 percent of the ballots have been counted. In the 6th, 54 percent have been counted.

Unlike Marr and probably Driscoll, County Commissioner Bonnie Mager and County Treasurer Skip Chilberg are within striking distance. Republican Al French is leading Mager with 50.8 percent of the vote. Republican Rob Chase is leading Skip Chilberg with 50.5 percent of the vote.

History, however, could pose a challenge to them. Late votes in the mail-voting era in Spokane County have trended Republican.

This year, the county received a bigger surge then normal on the final day, and it’s hard to know what that means. Democrats say that bulge may be partially the result of their late get-out-the-vote efforts on behalf of Sen. Patty Murray’s reelection bid.

Or, it could just be more conservative voters seeking change.

Idaho voters OK four constitutional amendments

All four constitutional amendments that were on the Idaho ballot passed, and passed fairly easily. SJR 101, allowing “tuition” at the University of Idaho (rather than just “fees”), passed with 64.1 percent of the vote. HJR 4, on hospital debt, got 63.5 percent; HJR 5 on airport debt, passed with 53.3 percent support, and HJR 7, for municipal electric system debts and power contracts, passed with 57 percent. All had received overwhelming support in the Idaho Legislature - that’s how they got on the ballot - though the Idaho Republican Party at its convention this year voted to oppose the three debt amendments.

All 11 constitutional amendments that have appeared on Idaho’s ballot since 1998 have won approval from Idaho voters, including complex measures dealing with endowment investment reform. Idaho voters tend to support them. This AP photo by Charlie Litchfield shows a scene from Idaho’s polls yesterday.

Election expands GOP supermajority in the Idaho Legislature

The Republican sweep that swept across Idaho yesterday did more than return the state to a 100 percent Republican congressional delegation to match its all-GOP slate of top statewide officials: It also added five seats to the Republican majority in the Idaho House. According to final, unofficial results, the five switches came as seven-term Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd, D-Prichard, lost to first-time GOP candidate Shannon McMillan in District 2; Republican Kathy Sims beat Democrat Paula Marano for the seat formerly held by Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, in District 4; Rep. Liz Chavez, D-Lewiston, lost to Republican challenger Jeff Nesset in District 7; Republican Jim Guthrie won the District 29 seat formerly held by Rep. James Ruchti, D-Pocatello, defeating Democrat Greg Anderson; and, in the closest race in the state, former Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, edged Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking by just nine votes in District 18, to win the seat formerly held by Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise.

Durst lost his bid for the Idaho Senate seat formerly held by Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, to Republican Mitch Toryanski by just 103 votes. But Democrat Dan Schmidt defeated Republican Gresham Dale Bouma to take the Senate seat formerly held by longtime Sen. Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, whom Bouma defeated in the GOP primary; that leaves the Senate’s party balance where it was, with 28 Republicans and seven Democrats.

The Idaho House went from 52 Republicans and 18 Democrats to - if these election results hold - 57 Republicans and 13 Democrats. That drops the Dems from a quarter of the seats in the House to under a fifth. Overall, that means the Idaho Legislature goes from three-quarters GOP to four-fifths.

Labrador, Minnick comment on results

Outgoing Congressman Walt Minnick issued a statement early this morning, saying, “It now appears that Raul Labrador will be the victor when all the votes are finally tallied. Therefore, early this morning I placed a call to Raul and wished him every success as Idaho’s next Congressman. I, in particular, hope he can be successful in working with the Administration and his colleagues of both parties in the exceedingly important task ahead of putting our country back to work and of balancing our nation’s budget.”

Meanwhile, the victorious Labrador issued a statement saying, “Everywhere I campaigned throughout the district people wanted someone to bring sanity back to Washington DC.  Whether it was a coffee shop in Nampa or a small business in Coeur d’Alene the message was the same; our government is out of control. I have always put the voters of Idaho first and I’m humbled by the support we received.  They have placed their trust in me.  I will hit the ground running in Washington to restore their faith in Congress and start working to create jobs.”

You can read Labrador’s full statement here, and click below to read Minnick’s full statement.

Repubs Grab House, Gain In Senate

The party that controls the House holds crucial power, taking the lead in writing bills and deciding which to bring up for a vote and when. A Republican House could pass legislation, such as promised tax relief, on simple majority votes without any Democratic support. Democrats will still hold the Senate, but Republicans will have a much stronger position and more leverage in negotiations thanks to their party running the House. Democrats also lack the 60 votes necessary in the Senate to stop a procedural hurdle known as filibuster, which gives Republicans power to block legislation/Thomas Ferraro, Reuters. More here.

Question: What do the national election results mean for Congress?

Labrador wins, beats Minnick

The Associated Press has called Idaho’s 1st District congressional race in favor of GOP challenger Raul Labrador. The latest figures from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office show that with 753 of 961 precincts reporting, Labrador had 50.2 percent to Minnick’s 42 percent, with independent Dave Olson garnering 5.9 percent and Libertarian Mike Washburn 1.9 percent.

Minnick’s campaign said on Twitter just now, “Congratulations  to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.”

Otter claims victory, promises ‘conservative leadership in tough times’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has claimed victory in his re-election bid, saying in a statement, “I give credit to my opponent, Mr. Allred, for running a very tough race. In the end, Idahoans spoke loudly that strong conservative leadership is what they wanted during these tough times.” You can read Otter’s full statement here. In this AP photo by Matt Cilley, Otter, joined by his mother, Regina Otter, delivers a thank-you message to supporters earlier tonight; he waited to claim victory until he heard from Allred.

Allred concedes in guv’s race

Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred has conceded to GOP Gov. Butch Otter in the governor’s race. “I believe more strongly than ever in the Founding Fathers’ wisdom that the best solutions are those that attract support across the lines that divide us,” Allred said in a statement. “It’s been my privilege to take that message to the people of Idaho.” Allred, who called Otter at 12:36 a.m. to concede, said, “I wish Governor Otter all the best as he works to guide our state through a difficult time.”

Meanwhile, GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador took the podium at Idaho GOP election night headquarters and said, “I want to go to bed. It’s too early to call it.” He thanked his supporters, and noted that he was outspent both in the primary race and in the general election contest. “I think they have shown what you can do with a little bit of money, a lot of energy and a lot of faith,” Labrador said.

Latest results in guv’s race

With vote-counting delays in Kootenai, Ada and Canyon counties, the election results have been very slow to come in tonight, prompting several major candidates to hold off on either declaring victory or conceding - including Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger Keith Allred. Here are the latest results from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office: With 543 of 961 precincts reporting, Otter has 60.5 percent to Allred’s 31.7 percent, while independent Jana Kemp has 5.7 percent, Libertarian Ted Dunlap has 1.2 percent and independent “Pro-Life” has 0.8 percent.

AP declares Luna, Little, Ysursa winners

The AP has called three more Idaho races: Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Lt. Gov. Brad Little, and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna all have won re-election, the AP says. The most high-profile race among those three was Luna’s; he faced a challenge from Stan Olson, the just-retired superintendent of the Boise School District, the state’s second-largest district. With 227 of 961 precincts reporting, Luna’s lead was 62.7 percent to Olson’s 37.3 percent.

Minnick: ‘I expect it to be very close’

Freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, the only Democrat among Idaho’s congressional delegation, said tonight that he’s not surprised he’s in such a hard-fought re-election race. “It’s the most Republican district to have elected a Democratic challenger in a Democratic year,” he said of his election in 2008. “We’re now in a very Republican year. In that circumstance … I think it was a given that it was going to have a lot of attention.” He said that was regardless of who the GOP nominee was against him.

Minnick said with a “Republican wave” out there, “more and more people have been asking, why shouldn’t it affect Idaho?” Plus, he said, it’s a time when “emotions are high and there is a great deal of disaffection,” given the nation’s economic straits and their impact on people. “Will people look beyond party label to the policies and background of the candidates as individuals? That’s the issue,” he said. “I’m of course hopeful that they will. We’ll have to see how it turns out. I expect it to be very close.

Early numbers look good for Labrador

The early numbers looked very good for GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador - with 124 of 961 precincts reporting, Labrador had 50.7 percent of the vote to incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick’s 42.6 percent, with independent Dave Olson trailing at 5.2 percent and Libertarian Mike Washburn at 1.4 percent. Labrador said he’s not surprised the race is so competitive - even though he was underfunded and running against an incumbent congressman. “I think people this year, more than ever, were looking at the message and not at the money spent,” Labrador said. “When they saw the ads, they wanted to find out for themselves if those things were true.” He speculated that Minnick’s ads drove voters to Labrador’s website to check him out.

He also noted that while his name recognition at the start of the campaign was very low statewide, by the end it was up to 90 percent - a change he attributes to Minnick’s negative ads against him. “I want to thank him,” Labrador said with a grin. He added of the race, “It’s too early to call.”

AP calls top races…

The Associated Press has called several of Idaho’s top races - it’s declared Sen. Mike Crapo a winner, winning a third term in the U.S. Senate; along with 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, winning another term in the House; and the AP has declared Gov. Butch Otter the winner in his bid for second term - though only a small fraction of Idaho’s votes have been counted. The AP’s projection was based on exit polls along with the earliest results.

Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred, shown here greeting supporters at the Idaho Democratic Party’s campaign headquarters at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel in Boise, said of his first run for office, “It’s been exciting and a lot more fun than I thought.”

Long night ahead…

Check back here later for election results; for now, there’s still an hour of voting left in southern Idaho and two hours in North Idaho. It could be a long night ahead. Among the factors threatening to make the vote-tallying take extra-long: Write-in candidates in two key races in Kootenai County, for a county commission seat (incumbent Rick Currie is the write-in, challenging Jai Nelson, who beat him in the GOP primary) and for a legislative seat (write-in Howard Griffiths challenging state Rep. Phil Hart). Kootenai County is part of the 1st Congressional District, where the hot race is between freshman Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick and GOP challenger Raul Labrador.