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Eye On Boise

Candidates, candidates: Yates files, Luna issues statement…

Steve Yates, who recently stepped down as executive director of the Idaho Republican Party, has filed paperwork with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office to run for lieutenant governor, joining three GOP hopefuls already in the race: Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian; Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon; and former Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls. All three already have launched their campaigns. Former Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Steve Pankey of Twin Falls also has filed as a Republican running for lieutenant governor.

Yates released this statement:

“Today, I filed the necessary paperwork, declaring a treasurer, to allow me to more formally explore running for lieutenant governor. This step is intended to ensure transparency as I continue to discuss this position with my family, friends, and Idahoans across the state. Should I decide to run, a formal announcement will follow.”

Last month, after a column by Chuck Malloy in Idaho Politics Weekly speculated that Yates entering the race likely would chase away other potential candidates and that Hagedorn, who at that time was the only announced candidate, “might want to rethink his plans,” Hagedorn responded on Facebook:

“I like Steve Yates, but I believe you are reading the tea leaves wrong here, Chuck. Having been an Idahoan most of my life, growing up with Idahoans and having lived in both northern and southern Idaho has provided me a perspective of why we are who we are. I've appreciated Steve's efforts to bring our party together (as a volunteer in a part-time job), but three years dealing with party officials doesn't give one the perspective of what Idaho is and who Idahoans really are. There will be more good candidates entering this race who I consider my friends, and I look forward to debating and traveling all over the state with them, and communicating our experiences letting Idahoans decide who will be the best person to provide back-up and guidance to whoever our new governor will be!”

Idaho’s lieutenant governor, a part-time position, presides over the Senate and serves as acting governor when the governor is outside the state or incapacitated. Other duties depend on those delegated or assigned by the governor. Little has held the post since 2009.

Hagedorn said today that Yates’ filing is “not a surprise at all,” saying, “I like Steve, Steve has done a great job with the party. But he doesn’t have any experience in the Legislature, and I think that’s not going to help him. You have to know what the issues are. But Steve is a good guy, I like him, actually all the candidates that have filed – I think we’re all pretty good friends. So I think it’s going to be an interesting primary.”

The lieutenant governor’s job will be open in 2018, of course, because current Lt. Gov. Brad Little is among those running for governor.

And now that 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador has jumped into the race for governor as well, candidates are starting to surface for the congressional seat he’ll be vacating. This morning, former Idaho attorney general and lieutenant governor David Leroy, a Republican, announced his candidacy.

And yesterday, former Idaho state schools Superintendent Tom Luna, also a Republican, sent out a statement to some members of the media – not to me – expressing interest in a run. Here’s Luna’s statement according to the Associated Press:

“In response to recent media inquiries, I am providing the following statement: I am strongly considering stepping forward to serve the great people of Idaho and run for the open seat in the First Congressional District. I have visited with supporters and party leaders across Idaho about this possibility and am very encouraged by their positive response. Since Congressman Labrador has stated that he will make an official announcement in the coming weeks, I too will wait until then to officially take my next steps. In the meantime, I will continue to visit with people across the 1st CD.”

I attempted to contact Luna yesterday, but the phone number I had for him is no longer valid. I reached his current employer, Project Leads the Way, an Indiana-based education company, this morning, but after I was on hold for more than 15 minutes, they came back to tell me they had no contact information for him. Instead, they’ll forward my request to their public relations director, who will forward it to him.

Project Leads the Way’s website shows Luna as senior vice president and chief governmental relations officer, but provides no office location or contact information for him. It says, “At PLTW, Tom oversees the Government Relations Team, which focuses on advancing federal, state, and local policies that expand high-quality educational opportunities for our country’s students.”

UPDATE: Jennifer Cahill, senior director of media and public relations for Project Leads the Way, got back to me this afternoon and supplied an email address for Luna; I've emailed him, but not yet heard back. If he responds today, I'll update this post with his comments. Cahill said Luna works from his home office in Nampa. "He's not based here in Indianapolis," she said. "We have about 200 employees, and a large number of our employees, because we work with schools and districts all over the United States, are able to work in the states in which they live. Tom still lives in Idaho and he works all across the country."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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