Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little will be re-elected to a second term as governor, with the Associated Press calling the race for Little at 9:05 p.m. Mountain time on Tuesday, moments after polls closed in North Idaho.
The AP called the race before statewide results were available.
The field of gubernatorial hopefuls also included Democrat Stephen Heidt, independent Ammon Bundy, Libertarian Paul Sand, Constitution Party nominee Chantyrose Davison and write-in candidate Lisa Marie.
Little is a rancher from Emmett who was first elected governor in 2018 after previously serving as lieutenant governor and a member of the Idaho Senate.
Little has told the Sun his priorities for his second term in office will mirror his first – improving public school education, expanding the state’s literacy program (particularly at the kindergarten through third grade level) and increasing education funding and funding for educators’ salaries.
One of his top priorities for 2023 will be working with a new-look Idaho Legislature to implement a $410 million annual funding increase for public schools and in-demand career training that was approved in House Bill 1 in the Sept. 1 special session of the Idaho Legislature.
Several other challenges await in Little’s second term, including managing growth in one of the fastest-growing states in the country, housing and affordable living challenges and reproductive and abortion rights policies in a post Roe v. Wade world.
Little and several other candidates gathered for an Idaho Republican Party election night rally at the Grove Hotel in downtown Boise.
As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Little had yet to address the gathering of public and party officials had not yet announced the winners of any races.
The gubernatorial campaign in Idaho
Little ran a quiet re-election campaign. He declined to debate his opponents during the primary election and general election cycles this year and eschewed a drawn out statewide campaign blitz, although he did participate in the traditional Idaho Republican Party roadshow that stopped in seven Idaho towns between Oct. 17 and Oct. 22.
Meanwhile, Bundy ran the most public traditional political campaign of any candidate in the field despite his status as an anti government activist who at one point was banned from the Idaho State Capitol building following a series of 2020 trespassing, resisting and obstructing arrests for protesting COVID-19 policies and precautions. Bundy attended dozens of events, rallies, town halls and public events across the state. He unveiled a series of campaign ads through his social media channels, and his supporters placed campaign signs around the state. Bundy was fined $250 by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month for failing to clearly identify that his campaign was responsible for a series of “Don’t vote” signs and a related “don’t vote Idaho” website.
On the campaign trail, Bundy pledged to repeal the state’s personal property tax and individual income tax. Repealing the individual income tax alone would immediately cut off 42% of the state general fund’s revenue. According to the Idaho Division of Financial Management, individual income tax collections accounted for $2.6 billion of the $6.2 billion revenue total. Bundy hasn’t articulated the specific ways his cuts would affect government programs. But in an Oct. 25 press release, Bundy said he would diminish welfare programs in Idaho, citing food stamps, housing assistance, publicly funded health care, “free education” and transportation, all of which Bundy called staples of a socialist agenda.
Heidt is an English as a second language teacher who worked for the Idaho Department of Correction before quitting his job to run for governor. Heidt, was an underdog candidate who was surprised to find himself as the Democrats’ only nominee for the May primary election after perceived frontrunner and Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad was excluded from the ballot because he was still registered as a Republican. Heidt campaigned in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform and protecting women’s privacy and reproductive rights.
Idaho’s statewide election results won’t become official until after they are canvassed and certified by the Idaho State Board of Canvassers. The deadline for the Idaho State Board of Canvassers to meet to certify election results is Nov. 23.
Idaho’s governor serves a four-year term and will earn an annual salary of $151,400 starting in 2023, according to Idaho law.
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