Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 78° Partly Cloudy
News >  Idaho

Idaho Gov. Otter wins third term

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, with wife Lori, celebrates on election night in Boise (AP / Otto Kitsinger)
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, with wife Lori, celebrates on election night in Boise (AP / Otto Kitsinger)
BOISE – Idaho GOP Gov. Butch Otter won a rare third term Tuesday, after a hard-fought race against Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, while the race for state superintendent of schools was too close to call. First-time Republican candidate Sherri Ybarra narrowly led Democrat Jana Jones, a former chief deputy state superintendent, in early returns in the superintendent’s race, the state’s closest race. Ybarra, a political unknown who won a four-way GOP primary with just 28.7 percent of the vote, ran a stumbling campaign that lurched from one gaffe to the next. She acknowledged that her campaign website plagiarized material from her opponent’s. She claimed inaccurately in a televised debate to have the endorsement of the Legislature’s joint budget committee. When news surfaced that she’d never voted in an Idaho election since moving to the state in 1996, she said she’s running for state superintendent in part to “repay” Idaho for that lapse in civic participation. But Democrats have faced long odds in Idaho elections in recent years, with the GOP controlling every statewide office since 2006, the entire four-member congressional delegation since 2010, and more than 80 percent of the seats in the Legislature. “It says a lot about the power of an ‘R’ behind a candidate’s name,” said Jim Weatherby, Boise State University professor emeritus and longtime observer of Idaho politics. “What is the future of the Democratic Party, if they can’t take advantage of relatively weak candidates like Ybarra?” Most of the attention in Idaho focused on the governor’s race, with Otter seeking a rare third consecutive four-year term. Both Balukoff and Libertarian challenger John Bujak pressed Otter hard over a series of scandals during his two terms, from a failed private prison experiment to a costly contract mess involving a high school broadband network. Balukoff, a prominent Boise businessman and longtime chairman of the Boise school board, also went after Otter on education and the economy, while Otter said a third term would let him finish leading the state out of the crippling recession that hit shortly after he took office in 2007. “Yes, we’ve had some setbacks,” Otter said in the final debate of the campaign. But he said maintained he can turn things around in a third term, and pointed to a task force five-year plan to improve schools. Balukoff said, “We’ve fallen in education and job opportunities. … Is our state better off under Gov. Otter? The answer is no.” In other statewide races, Republicans held the edge in early returns. Lt. Gov. Brad Little appeared well ahead of Democratic challenger Bert Marley in his bid for a second full term. While the lieutenant governor is a part-time post in Idaho, it’s a key position because it’s the person who steps in if the governor is unable to serve. Little was first appointed to the position by Otter in 2009; a former four-term state senator and a rancher from Emmett, he won his first full term a year later. A rare open race for Idaho Secretary of State – a position long dominated by two popular, long-serving Republicans – pitted controversial former Idaho House speaker Lawerence Denney against freshman Democratic state Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise, a high-tech company co-owner who ran a sophisticated, energetic statewide campaign; early returns showed Denney ahead. Denney is a longtime state representative who was the first House speaker ever to be removed from the post by his caucus; for the past two years, he’s chaired the House Resources Committee and campaigned for a state takeover of federal public lands. Idaho state Treasurer Ron Crane, a four-term incumbent who was unopposed four years ago, was challenged this time by Twin Falls CPA Deborah Silver, a Democrat who pointed to critical state audits and said a professional could manage Idaho’s funds better than Crane. Crane, who disputed the state auditors’ findings, served 16 years in the state Legislature before being elected treasurer and owns an alarm company; early results had him well ahead in his bid for a fifth term.
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.