BOISE – Five Republicans and two Democrats are vying to become Idaho’s next lieutenant governor.
The seat has attracted a wide range of candidates after incumbent Lt. Gov. Brad Little announced he would run for governor instead of seeking a fourth term.
GOP candidates include state Sens. Bob Nonini of Coeur d’Alene and Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon, former Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls and former Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates of Idaho Falls.
The race has largely been overshadowed by the governor and 1st Congressional District races which have flooded the airwaves by candidates spending millions, but at times the lieutenant governor bid has raised eyebrows as candidates clash with each other.
For example, Nonini sparked criticism from some of his opponents after saying “all women should pay” if they’ve had an abortion during a candidate forum where he agreed that women should face the death penalty if they got an abortion. Nonini has since reiterated that abortion is murder, but no longer says he endorses legislation penalizing mothers who have abortions and said his comments had been taken out context.
Meanwhile, Hagedorn and Yates clashed after Hagedorn accused the former state party chair of faking military service.
Yates says he has never claimed to be in the military, and when pressed, Hagedorn’s campaign couldn’t point to any fliers or events where Yates said he was in the military. Yates was a civilian intelligence analyst with the National Security Agency.
Yet Yates’ background was once again in the spotlight during the final days of the campaign after a political action committee called “Idahoans Fighting Corruption” sent out a mailer highlighting the Asian names of some of Yates’ campaign donors. The flyer claimed that “Steve Yates is funded by hundreds of Republic of China supporters. What’s in it for them? A corrupt bargain exists.”
Yates served in Taiwan as a Mormon missionary and is fluent in Mandarin.
Yates has called the flyers racists and shameful.
Two Democrats are also running for the lieutenant governor seat, but only Kristin Collum of Boise has the endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan. The two women have teamed up to call themselves “Idaho’s first all-female joint ticket” – although joint tickets don’t exist in Idaho – as a sign of solidarity in pushing a progressive platform. It’s unclear if either candidate will step down if the other loses on Tuesday.
Collum is an Army veteran, who served under Colin Powell at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., She has never held elected office.
Her opponent is Jim Fabe, a dentist from Ketchum, who is also a first-time candidate and an Army veteran.
Idaho’s lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and serves as governor when the elected governor is out of the state. It’s largely seen as a stepping stone to other political offices. The position pays roughly $43,000 a year.
The primary election will be May 15.
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