Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Idahoans will know this week if the state’s primary elections did in fact set a new record low turnout.   

One day after the May 15th primary, Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said 23% of registered voters cast ballots.  Ysursa will be among those who’ll certify election results tomorrow. If that 23% figure holds, it would be the lowest turnout ever recorded for an Idaho primary.     

U.S.  Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) said today he’s frustrated with the gridlock in Washington.  Decisions on the nation’s budget, debt, taxes, and other major issues have been put off repeatedly. 

Crapo believes these issues won’t be resolved until after the November elections.   He says, "Unfortunately, I don’t think any of the major things that we need to do will happen with the possible exception of a farm bill, on which we are developing some bipartisan support, and, hopefully, a transportation bill."

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho inmate Richard Leavitt is scheduled for lethal injection on June 12th.  That will come seven months after the state used a mixture of three drugs to execute Paul Rhoades.  Idaho Department of Correction officials said today based on what they learned from that execution, they’ll now use just one drug.

Idaho Secretary of State's Office

Idaho’s recent primary elections will likely hit a historical low with 23 % of registered voters casting ballots.  The closed Republican primary confused some people and may have kept others from voting Tuesday. 

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Election officials expected low voter turnout on Tuesday. That's due in part to all the changes surrounding this year’s primaries.  That turned out to be true in Idaho's most populous county. Phil McGrane says voter turnout in Ada County was extremely low. “It was 16.74%.”

The Chief Deputy for the Ada County Clerk says that’s lower than normal. “For the past three primaries, in 2010, 2008, and 2006, it’s been just above 21%.”

District 11, Senate Seat

Canyon County Senator Patti Anne Lodge (R- Huston) is seeking a seventh term in the Idaho Statehouse.  The Republican lawmaker beat former legislator Maurice Clements.   The two Republicans spent at least $26,000 in their primary election campaigns. Lodge was first elected to the Idaho legislature in 2000.  She chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.  She now faces Democrat Victoria Brown in the general election.

District 11, House Seat A

It appears North Idaho lawmaker Phil Hart (R-Hayden) has lost his four-way primary battle in District Two.  With all precincts reporting, Hart trails by 238 votes.  Hart has gained notoriety for his ongoing battles with the IRS and Idaho State Tax Commission. At one point Hart stopped paying income tax saying it was unconstitutional and, though he says he pays now, he reportedly owes the state more than 50 thousand dollars and the federal government more than half a million. Two years ago, Hart won re-election with 75-percent of the vote.

BSU Professor Analyzes Primary Results

May 16, 2012
Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Idaho voters encountered some big changes at the polls in Tuesday's primaries.  KBSX Morning Edition Host Scott Graf spoke with Boise State University Political Scientist Gary Moncrief about the changes, low turnout, the future of Idaho's closed primaries, and more.  Click 'Listen' to hear their conversation.

In District 14, the Senate primary pitted two high profile candidates against one another.  Representative Marv Hagedorn (R-Meridian) faced a former lawmaker, Stan Bastian of Eagle.  Hagadorn won last night in the primary and will likely take his place as Senator after the November election.

Hagadorn says he wants to build on the tax cuts the legislature passed this year. “So I want to continue on that, work on personal property tax. And try and reduce that burden for business. Cause right now everything is about the economy and jobs. Anything else is noise around that.”

Primary Results: District 19 House Races

May 16, 2012

It was a three-way Democratic race for House Seat A in Boise’s District 19. In the end, Matthew Erpelding took home enough votes to win the primary. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to go into the Legislature and work and write and see things from behind the scenes and be involved in trying to push forward what I think is progressive and intelligent policy.” 

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Tea Party favorite Raul Labrador easily beat challenger Reed McCandless of Moscow.  McCandless is a 50-year old truck driver.  Two years ago, Labrador beat Vaughn Ward in the Republican primary despite being considered the underdog.  Labrador went on to beat one term Congressman Walt Minnick, a Democrat. Labrador says he’s met many of the goals he had when he went to Washington two years ago. But he says there’s a long way to go on one of his main campaign themes, immigration reform:

In a closely watched Democratic race, Branden Durst beat Matthew Duncan Tuesday night in South Boise’s District 18.  Durst and Duncan are against the public education reform laws known as Students Come First or what Democrats call the “Luna laws.” They both are for ethics reform, and against requiring an ultrasound before an abortion.  But Durst does have a four-year history in the Idaho Legislature.  

Three sitting judges will keep their seats after running unopposed in Tuesday's primary.  For those who voted the unaffiliated ballot, their only choice was to vote for Supreme Court Justice Dan Eismann  and Appellate Court Judges David Gratton and John Melanson.  A few people chose the unaffiliated ballot than the Democratic or Republican one. That could be a problem, says Gary Moncrief.  The political science professor at Boise State says fewer people are likely to vote for judges than in the other races.


Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

Turnout was low as Idaho voters cast their ballots in the state’s first-ever closed primary.  Many who did go to the polls said they were frustrated by the new process.  One of them was Kelvin Taysom.  He turned out early in the southeast Idaho town of Rockland, population 318.  He was the fourth person to vote at Rockland City Hall, but his was a vote of protest.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

Tuesday's primaries in Idaho mark the beginning of a new way of voting in the state. The Republican Party closed its primary. That means voters must declare their political affiliation before they can cast a ballot.  Scott Ki visited polling sites in Boise and Meridian to find out how today's primaries are going. 

There aren’t many voters coming out to cast ballots in the state’s first closed primary.  Phil Mcgrane, Chief Deputy of the Ada County Clerk's Office says, "The one big thing of note is that turn out seems to be low."