Writings and observations

For the better part of the year or so Vaughn Ward has been running for the U.S. House, he has been the front runner – much of that time, a seemingly prohibitive front runner. One other candidate, legislator Ken Roberts (who this evening won his own contested primary for his current seat), dropped out because there seemed no way to beat him. When another legislator, Raul Labrador, entered the race, there seemed to be no realistic prospect he could beat him either.

What has happened over the last couple of months culminating in tonight’s primary win by Labrador over Ward, and this ought to be remembered, is that Ward chiefly defeated himself. A few months ago he had or seemed to have absolutely everything you need to succeed at this. He had good presence, articulated well, lots of money, lots of party connections, full-time and intensive, campaigning, strong organization – pretty much everything. He raised money far behind what Labrador did. Most of the big names in Idaho Republican politics who were doing endorsements, did them for Ward.

But Ward blew up, in a series of goofs and gaffes so rapid-fire that they finally attracted national attention.

This isn’t to slight Labrador, who ran a solid campaign and had positioned himself well enough to take advantage of the situation when his opposition fell apart. But it also means he will have to develop, starting from a much more basic level, a national-caliber campaign, something Ward seemed to have done already. We’ll come back to this in a future post.

For the moment . . . just goes to show how, even in Idaho, politics is never entirely predictable.

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Idaho

In Oregon’s primary last week not a single incumbent legislator lost. Not so this week in Idaho – a number are biting the dust, all on the Republican side.

Notably in the Senate (though some House members are losing too). In District 3, three-term Republican Mike Jorgenson, Hayden Lake, well-known for his activism on illegal immigration, is losing decisively. In District 8, Lee Heinrich of Cascade.

But the two that may have the most impact in the chamber are Senators Gary Schroeder of Moscow and Charles Coiner of Twin Falls – probably the two key players in what was once a substantial moderate group among Republican senators. Schroeder is behind Gresham Dale Bouma by about 300 votes with more than two-thirds of the vote counted; Coiner clearly has lost to Lee Heider. Both of these primaries were challenges from the right.

In the case of the Twin Falls district (24) that will mean the seat, for decades held by relatively moderate Republicans, will move decisively rightward. In the education-dominated Moscow-area District 5, this is an opportunity for the Democrats and their new nominee Dan Schmidt. However November goes, though, the Idaho Senate has changed.

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Idaho

Remember last week’s Republican chart? Here’s an early run at filling in some of the gaps, this time with Idaho results as of 90 minutes after polls closing (262 of 936 precincts, still, obviously, far from complete):

District Establishment % Insurgent %
US House OR 1 Cornilles 39% Kuzmanich
Keller
28%
30%
US House OR 5 Bruun 64% Thompson 36%
US House ID 1 Ward 42.2% Labrador 44.4%
US House ID 2 Simpson 57.8% Heileman
Mathews
24.9%
9.7%
OR House 58 Jenson* 53% Mathisen* 47%
OR House 57 Smith* 62% MacLeod* 38%
OR House 17 Sprenger* 68% Cuff* 32%
OR Senate 19 Griffith* 49% Kremer* 51%


Early take: Put these two Idaho House races together with insurgent concerns with Senator Mike Crapo (winning with 80%), Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter (winning with 55.2% in a field of six, the nearest competitor getting half the votes he is) and you have to think that the insurgency – call it the Tea Party or whatever – isn’t an enormous factor.

The 1st District race is still too close to call, and Labrador, supported by many of the insurgents, is doing well and could win it. But a large part of the reason for that, if it happens, would be the implosion of the Ward campaign over the last couple of months.

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Idaho

At this post, 175 of Idaho’s 936 precincts are in, and some races are coming a little clearer.

Not the hottest of them though: In Idaho’s 1st District Republican, it’s Raul Labrador at 44.7% and Vaughn Ward at 42.3%. No calls on this one yet, and or maybe for a while.

We’ll make a call on the Supreme Court race, though: incumbent Roger Burdick is hanging in sell over 60%.

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Idaho

We’ll be blogging this evening as the Idaho primary election results come in.

Recognizing that there are only so many primaries many people will watch closely. Of much the highest interest: The 1st District U.S. House Republican primary between Vaughn Ward and Raul Labrador will be fascinating – and it is from predictable.

And the Supreme Court contest between incumbent Roger Burdick and challenger John Bradbury has some real interest. (Such contests have periodically been close; Bradbury only barely lost his last run for the high court.)

Beyond that . . . well, there’s not much going on in the U.S. Senate contests, even if technically there are contests for both sides. (Though we’ll watch to see how well an Idaho resident does against a non-resident on the Democratic side.) The 2nd District Republican race will almost certainly be swept by incumbent Mike Simpson, though the percentages might be instructive. A handful of legislative races . . . and the Ada County Commission, where a comeback attempt by two former commissioners has turned into an ideological squabble and more.

Okay, there’ll be some stuff to watch. See you shortly.

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Idaho