When little-known candidate Sherri Ybarra won a four-way GOP primary race for state superintendent of public instruction in May, some speculation focused on her Basque-sounding last name as an advantage in the race. Basques are one of Idaho’s more colorful longtime ethnic minorities; they're also known for winning Idaho elections, as Basques have held the Idaho Secretary of State’s office for the last half-century, in the form of current Secretary Ben Ysursa and predecessor Pete Cenarrusa.
Asked about it, Ybarra said she’s not Basque, but her husband’s ancestors were, way back. “That is the No. 1 Basque name,” she said. “It’s a lot like ‘Smith.’ ” I wrote about this and other topics in my Sunday column this week, which is online here.