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News >  Idaho

3 Republicans file to replace outgoing state Sen. Don Cheatham in North Idaho

Idaho’s legislative districts. (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
Idaho’s legislative districts. (Molly Quinn / The Spokesman-Review)
By Ellen Dennis For the Spokesman-Review

Idaho’s primary elections will take place by mail beginning this Tuesday. In North Idaho’s District 3, there are three Republican candidates on the ballot to choose from.

The primary will determine who wins the seat, as no other parties are represented in the race. District 3 is located in the southwest part of Kootenai County and encompasses the majority of Post Falls.

“North Idaho is a very conservative area,” Peter Riggs, one of the Republican candidates in the race, said. “It’s so conservative that there’s not even a Democrat running in the race.”

All three contenders oppose a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices and support the Second Amendment, but differences exist in their backgrounds and approaches to fiscal policy issues.

One of those contenders is Alex Barron, the self-titled “Bard of the Redoubt,” who has been endorsed by retiring incumbent Don Cheatham.

The American Redoubt is a survivalist migration movement which calls upon conservative and libertarian Christians and Jews to rehome in one of three Northwest states: Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. According to a podcast created by Barron called the Charles Carroll Society, the movement seeks to help people escape “militant progressive secular states that are becoming increasingly hostile to their Christian-based western culture.”

Barron, a U.S. Navy and Operation: Desert Storm veteran, said in an email he is the only candidate running who has publicly spoken about preventing Idaho from building a new prison release center. He said he will also work to repeal the Idaho grocery tax.

Another anti-grocery tax candidate running for the seat is Marc Eberlein, a former Kootenai County commissioner who ran for re-election and was ousted in 2018 after he voted to make building codes optional in the county.

After Eberlein voted in favor of a building code opt-out for single-family and duplex homes, he narrowly lost his seat in a Republican primary, which drew close to 30% more voter turnout than the previous year.

Eberlein declined to comment for this story.

Riggs is the only candidate running who is in favor of keeping Idaho’s grocery tax in place for non-Idaho residents.

“People have to remember that, especially in Kootenai County, we have hundreds of thousands of people who come and visit us every year from out of state,” Riggs said. “I’d much rather see a more nuanced system, where we give even a 100% rebate to Idaho residents on the taxes they pay on their groceries.”

Riggs, former president and CEO of Pita Pit USA and son of a former Idaho lieutenant governor, said he differs with his opponents on tax policies.

“A lot of my opponents – and a lot of other folks that are running in this area – take kind of a one-size-fits-all approach that says ‘Taxes are bad, they need to be eliminated or reduced,’ ” Riggs said. “They’re not taking into account the broader ramifications of a simplistic approach.”

The three candidates are running to fill the seat which currently belongs to Cheatham, a Republican Idaho state senator who is serving his third term representing the district but has decided to retire at the end of November.

Idaho residents must register to vote in the state’s primaries by 8 p.m. Tuesday. Registration in Kootenai County can be done online.

Ballots will be mailed and must be returned via mail or to an elections office by June 2.

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