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Crapo, Labrador coast to wins; most North Idaho lawmakers leading, but Sims trails opponent in early returns

BOISE – Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo and 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador cruised easily through the state’s primary election on Tuesday – Crapo didn’t even have an opponent – but North Idaho legislative races were much more hotly contested.

Crapo in November will face Democrat Jerry Sturgill, a Boise businessman who also was unopposed Tuesday. Labrador, who defeated two little-known challengers, one of them a California resident, will face Boise attorney James Piotrowski, who easily led his two challengers at press time. They included University of Idaho student Staniela Nikolova of Moscow and Californian Shizandra Fox.

Crapo, a third-term senator, was widely expected to draw a primary challenger after a surprising 2013 DUI conviction – he’s known as a teetotaler and observant member of the Mormon Church – but instead ran unopposed.

“I’ve been putting my nose to the grindstone, if you will,” he said in a recent interview. “I just believe that it’s frankly a reflection, I think on the Republican side, that I’m effectively and aggressively representing the principles that they want represented.”

Labrador, who was declared the winner in his GOP primary race early in the evening with nearly 81 percent of the vote, said, “Tonight’s vote sends a strong signal to the rest of the country that conservative principles matter.”

Piotrowski, who watched the results come in from the Democrats’ watch party at a brewpub in Garden City, said, “The conventional wisdom is that the guy with the R after his name is always going to win in Idaho, lately. Well, conventional wisdom won’t work this year,” he said, because of the Donald Trump factor. “Things are going to happen that no one can predict.”

Every seat in the Idaho Legislature also was on the ballot Tuesday, and several North Idaho lawmakers faced strong primary challenges. Here’s how it looked in early results; find final results at

DISTRICT 1: Longtime Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, appeared to be fending off a challenge from Priest River resident Glenn Rohrer, who aligned himself with two new ultra-conservative House members from the district, Reps. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay. Both Scott and Dixon were unopposed in the primary.

Keough, who led with 58.6 percent to Rohrer’s 41.4 percent in early results, would face Steve Tanner, a tea party conservative who filed as a Democrat, in November. Scott will face Democrat Kate McAlister of Sandpoint, who is president of the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. Dixon will face either Bob Vickaryous, another conservative who filed as a Democrat, or write-in Democratic candidate Stephen Howlett of Bonners Ferry, depending on the final results.

DISTRICT 2: Third-term Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, turned back a challenge from firefighter Fritz Wiedenhoff, who also challenged Barbieri unsuccessfully two years ago; Barbieri will face Democrat Kathy Kahn in November.

Rep. Eric Redman, R-Athol, appeared to be easily defeating challenger Alan Littlejohn in early results; on the Democratic side, two candidates, Cooper Coyle and Richard Kohles, were facing off for a chance to challenge Redman, with Kohles well ahead at press time.

DISTRICT 3: In the only contested race in this Kootenai County district, freshman Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, faced a stiff challenge from North Idaho businessman Peter Riggs. The results were too close to call at press time – split 50-50.

DISTRICT 4: Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, faced a challenge from Coeur d’Alene Attorney Art Macomber; Malek held the lead at press time, with 58 percent to Macomber’s 42 percent. The winner will face Democrat Patrick Mitchell, who was easily defeating his primary rival, “Turns to the East,” who changed his name from Charles Russell Addy.

Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, faced a challenge from local University of Idaho official Paul Amador; Amador held a narrow lead at press time, 52 percent to 48 percent. The winner faces Democrat Tom Hearn in November.

DISTRICT 5: Bill Goesling of Moscow and Carl Berglund of Kendrick were vying in the GOP primary for a chance to challenge Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, but no results were available at press time. That was the district’s only contested primary race.

DISTRICT 7: Three incumbents faced primary challenges. In early results, Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, was in a close race with rancher Carl Crabtree, with Crabtree leading the incumbent 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent; and Priscilla Giddings was leading Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, 63.8 percent to 36.2 percent. Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, was easily defeating challenger Kris Steneck of Elk City, garnering 75.5 percent of the vote at press time.

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