At 1 this morning (Mountain time), Republican Butch Otter announced that, although he was leading in the governor’s race by a 54-43 margin with 62 percent of the vote counted, he wouldn’t declare victory until he’d heard from Democratic opponent Jerry Brady conceding the race. But Richard Stallings, state Democratic Party chairman, told KTVB-TV, “By no means are we going to concede this election, because it is still very much in play.” No results at all had come in from Bannock County, the state’s fifth-largest, due to a ballot-counting glitch. Bonner County results were delayed with the big write-in campaign there for county commissioner. And Stallings said there also were delays in results from Blaine County, which is heavily Democratic, and half of Ada County, which Brady won in 2002.
Meanwhile, the congressional race between Republican Bill Sali and Democrat Larry Grant tightened at one point after midnight to just 1,200 votes separating the two, and Republican Tom Luna and Democrat Jana Jones continued to run neck-and-neck in the race for state superintendent of schools.
Perhaps the oddest moment of the night came when Brady was being interviewed on live TV by Adam Atchison of KTVB Channel 7, when Brady’s wife, Rickie, grabbed him and hustled him away, saying, “Someone is waiting for us.” Atchison, and his colleagues in the studio, were left flabbergasted – as were viewers. Brady spent most of election night huddled in a hotel room with Rickie and the couple’s grandchildren, rather than emerging to talk with supporters and the media.
Probably the biggest news – and the earliest obvious result – was the resounding defeat voters dealt to Proposition 2, the regulatory takings initiative. With 63 percent of the vote counted, that measure was failing by a 24-76 percent margin. Meanwhile, Proposition 1, the school funding increase initiative, was failing 43-57, while three other ballot measures – HJR 2 on banning same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships; SJR 107, putting the state’s tobacco settlement funds into a constitutionally protected trust fund; and the advisory vote affirming the August tax-reform legislation that raised the sales tax while lowering property taxes; all were passing with comfortable margins.
Meanwhile, Democrats appeared to be picking up several seats in the state Legislature. With half the votes counted in Ada County, three incumbent Republican legislators were losing to their Democratic challengers – Les Bock was ahead of Rep. Jana Kemp, 52-48, in District 16; Bill Killen was leading Rep. Kathie Garrett, 58-38; and Sue Chew was ahead of Rep. Janet Miller, 60-37 percent, both in District 16. Also, Rep. Jack Barraclough, R-Idaho Falls, was losing to Democrat Jerry Shively 49-51 in District 33, and House Majority Caucus Chair Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, was in a dead heat with Democratic challenger Phyllis King, 50-50, in District 18.