Big changes for Idaho's Legislature, but not in party makeup
Idaho’s Legislature will have 41 new members when it meets this winter, a freshman class comprising almost 43 percent of the House and almost a third of the Senate, but the mix of Republicans to Democrats in both chambers will remain much the same, based on current vote tallies.
Eleven new senators will take up residence in the Senate, many of whom are traveling from across the rotunda. Newly-minted ex-House members include Republicans Bob Nonini of Coeur d’Alene, Steven Thayn of Emmett, Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, Cliff Bayer of Boise, Jim Patrick of Twin Falls and Jim Guthrie of McCammon and Democrats Roy Lacey of Pocatello and Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise.
Joining the freshman ranks will be Republican Fred Martin of Boise, who brought in almost 52 percent of the vote to defeat former U.S. Attorney Betty Richardson; and Branden Durst, a Democrat and former House member, who dispatched incumbent Republican Mitch Toryanski by holding him to just 46.4 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals. Republican Todd Lakey of Nampa, a former county commissioner, easily defeated Melissa Sue Robinson to round out the freshman class.
Unofficial results also showed Democrat incumbent Dan Schmidt narrowly escaping in a rematch against Gresham Bouma for the Lewiston-area Senate seat. Schmidt walked away with about 51 percent of the vote.
New House members include Ed Morse, who defeated Rep. Phil Hart in the Republican primary. Morse, of Hayden, easily defeated Democrat Dan English, the former Kootenai County clerk. Morse will be joined by freshman GOP Reps. Luke Malek, Cindy Agidius and Ron Mendive, who were each vying for open seats.
In Lewiston, Republican Tyra Stevenson was beating Democrat Pete Gertonson for that open seat. GOP Rep. Terry Gestrin of Donnelly, who Gov. Butch Otter appointed to fill Republican Ken Roberts’ term, beat Democrat Karla Miller.
In the Nampa-Caldwell area, Republicans Brandon Hixon, Robert Anderst and Rick Youngblood easily defeated their Democratic challengers.
In Boise, Mark Patterson was winning a hotly-contested race for an open seat against Democrat Steve Berch. Democrats Hy Kloc and John Gannon both won their Boise contests. Gannon previously served in the Legislature.
In Boise’s District 18, Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking appeared to be winning her rematch against Republican Julie Ellsworth. Boise’s North End district will have all-new representation, Democrats Mathew Erpelding and Holli High Woodings.
Republicans Steven Harris, Jason Monks and Tom Dayley easily won their western Ada County legislative contests. They’ll be joined by Republican James Holtzclaw, who was unopposed in the general election.
Republicans Clark Kauffman and Steve Miller won their Magic Valley legislative races. They’ll be joined in the Legislature by Twin Falls councilman Lance Clow, a Republican, who was unopposed in both the primary and the general election.
In southeastern Idaho, Republican Kelley Packer of McCammon appeared to be winning that House contest, but in the neighboring Pocatello district, Democrat Carolyn Meline was ahead in a three-way contest.
Republicans Wendy Horman, Neil Anderson, Janet Trujillo, Douglas Hancey Jr., Paul Romrell and Julie Van Orden were winning their eastern Idaho open-seat contests.