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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Phil Hart, Kathy Sims lose bids to return to Idaho Legislature

FILE – Then-Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart chats with other attendees while waiting for a speech by presidential candidate Ron Paul at the Spokane Convention Center on Feb. 21, 2012. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Two former Idaho legislators making comeback bids were halted by voters in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

The former lawmakers, Kathy Sims and Phil Hart, were running in districts different from the ones they previously served and had been removed from the ballot before the primary by the secretary of state before being reinstated by a judge.

In District 3, which includes Post Falls, Tony Wisniewski defeated Sims with 56 percent of the vote. In District 7, which includes Shoshone County, incumbent Paul Shepherd defeated Hart by capturing 59 percent.

Wisniewski will face Democrat Dan Hanks in November, and Shepherd will run unopposed.

The secretary of state removed Sims and Hart from the ballot earlier this month because the two did not register to vote in the district in which they are running for a year prior to the November general election. Hart missed the deadline by a day, and Sims has been living in her district for longer than a year. But the judge ruled that candidates don’t need to be living in the district in which they run.

In a statement, Sims wrote, “The wrongful interference by Tim Hurst in the Secretary of State’s office, which resulted in my name being temporarily removed from the ballot at a critical time in my race, certainly affected the outcome. Nonetheless, I do congratulate Tony on his win and wish him the very best.”

Wisniewski said he was glad that Sims was not disqualified; even so, he expected the race to be closer. “I suspect that it had a reasonable impact on vote,” he said.

Wisniewski credited his face-to-face interactions for his win. He said he knocked on every door in four precincts and talked to residents or left a card.

If Sims or Hart had won in the primary, the secretary of state’s office said it would consider contesting the judge’s rulings.

Hart and Shepherd did not immediately respond to requests for comment.