Idaho's legislative races are not very competitive, at least that's the opinion of Gary Moncrief, professor emeritus at Boise State University, who studies state legislatures.
While all 105 seats in the Legislature are up for grabs this year, Moncrief sees only five districts where the races could be close.
“In Idaho, usually somewhere between 40 and 50 percent of the seats are not contested,” says Moncrief.
And when it comes to competitive races, where more than one candidate is on the ballot, “Idaho has fewer competitive races, year in and year out, then virtually any other state. This is just not a state where we have competitive legislative races.”
Moncrief says that’s in part because Idaho is a very Republican state. And it’s due in part to the small size of the districts in Idaho.
“There are about 45,000 people in a district,” says Moncrief, “and the smaller the district, the more homogenous they tend to be. They tend to think alike.”
Moncrief points to Boise’s North End as an example. “There’s kind of a stereotypical North Ender that we think about, which is very different than what we think about in a district in Rexburg.”
Here are the races to watch.
District 5 – State Representative, Position A - North Idaho. “This is a district that is generally, slightly Democratic,” says Moncrief. But in 2012, Lucinda Agidius, a Republican, won the race by 123 votes over Paulette Jordan. The two are up for a rematch this time around. “It looks to be a pretty close race,” says Moncrief, “and by Idaho standards there’s a fair amount of money being spent by those two candidates.”
District 6 – State Representative, Position A - Lewiston. “It’s another district where there are often one or two Democrats and one or two Republicans in that race,” says Moncrief. Democrat Dan Rudolph is up against Republican Thyra K. Stevenson. “Stevenson is a moderate Republican, but she is being challenged heavily by Rudolph,” says Moncrief. “Stevenson has basically suspended her campaign because her husband is very ill. So she’s essentially pulled out to deal with that issue. That may make a difference, we’ll have to wait and see.”
District 18 – All three seats – Boise. “It’s a district that I think leans Democratic, but in certain years the Republicans have the potential to win one or more of those seats, as they did in 2010,” says Moncrief. In 2012, two out of three seats in the district went Republican. But by 2012, all three seats were held by Democrats. “That district can, as we saw in the past, turn toward the Republican Party.”
District 26 – State Representative, Position A – Blaine County. “It’s historically a district that has tended to vote Democratic but occasionally Republicans get elected,” Moncrief says. Democrat Richard Fosbury is challenging the GOP incumbent, Steve Miller. “Fosbury is fairly well known and has some fair amount of backing behind him,” says Moncrief, “It will be interesting to see if the Republican can hold that seat or not.” Fosbury is a track and field champion, known for his Olympic gold medal in 1968.
District 29 – Senate – Pocatello – Incumbent Democrat Roy Lacey is being challenged by Republican Kert Howard. “There’s a pretty big effort to oust [Lacey] by the Republicans,” says Moncrief. “I think they see this as one of their best shots at gaining a seat in the Senate. That may be a pretty competitive race.”
Find Samantha Wright on Twitter @samwrightradio
Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio