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The Republican Party has dominated Idaho politics for most of its history. In fact, it's one of the reddest states in the country. But it hasn't always been that way.Twenty years ago, Idaho had a Democratic governor. More recently, Idaho had a Democrat in Congress. Today, Republicans hold each of Idaho's top statewide elected offices, and a wide majority in the Legislature.So, how did Republicans get to be so firmly in control of Idaho politics today? We examine the events and issues that led to one-party control of Idaho.

The Best KBSX Radio Stories Of 2014

Gay marriage, couples, lawsuit
Adam Cotterell
Boise State Public Radio
On Oct. 15, 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho. This image was captured as couples were married at the Ada County Courthouse.

If there's one thing Idaho is never short on, it's a good story. In 2014, the KBSX newsroom produced unique, enterprising content that's worth a second look.

Perhaps you didn't catch these stories the first time around, or like us, maybe one of them has really stuck in your memory.

Each person in the KBSX newsroom submitted these stories that, to us, stood out in our 2014 coverage.


"Road To Red" Series

Of all the coverage the KBSX newsroom produced in 2014, our Road to Red series on Idaho politics is the work that I'm most proud of.  It's pretty common knowledge that Idaho is one of the most conservative states in the country. But just two decades ago, a political observer could have easily called Idaho a purple state.  Our goal with Road to Red was very simple:  To go beyond the assertion that Idaho is a red state, and ask why things are the way they are.  

What Adam Cotterell, Samantha Wright and Emilie Ritter Saunders delivered was a package of stories that looked at the GOP's rise to dominance, the roots of the state's distrust of the federal government, and the notion that Idahoans are fiercely independent. The series culminated in a panel discussion with political experts and about 200 listeners.

This sense-of-place series was the result of a lot of planning, hard work and even a few tears. But the finished product is one worth a second listen. - News Director Scott Graf

Listen: Road to Red Series

50 Years Of Wilderness

It was a story 50 years in the making. This summer I had the chance to report on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. This wide-reaching piece of legislation set the stage for preserving 109-million acres of wild land for federal protection. It’s a huge topic, so I narrowed the focus around Stanley, a town surrounded by, and dependent upon, wilderness areas.

Tourism keeps the tiny town afloat, as people from around the world come to play in protected areas. I also went to parts of Custer County, where many residents don’t like the federal designation, and the burdens it can bring to communities. The story combined history, research, travel, and a chance to talk to the people who live day to day on a unique landscape that impacts thousands of people every year in Idaho and around the United States. - Samantha Wright

Listen: Wilderness Area Accused Of Inhibiting Idaho Town's Economy

"In Crisis" Series Examining Idaho's Fragmented Mental Health Care System

For three months near the end of 2014, Audrey Dutton of the Idaho Statesman and I produced a multi-part, multimedia, dual-newsroom series to better understand the transformation taking place within Idaho's mental health care system, and how that change is affecting the people it serves. It was a big undertaking.

The project produced five radio features, and five print features. All the stories lived online, too. We partnered with photographers at the Statesman to create a stunning video, and visuals to help tell the stories we'd uncovered.

I'm most proud of this series because each of the pieces tells the stories of how government action -- or inaction -- is impacting real people. - Emilie Ritter Saunders

Listen: In Crisis: Understanding Idaho's Fragmented Mental Health System

When Dog Poop Becomes A News Story

From the millions of acres of land covered by the Wilderness Act, I got a chance to focus on a comparatively small section of wild land: The Boise Foothills. At first blush, the issue of dog waste in Boise’s playground of trails seems almost comical -- and indeed sparked some clever wordplay in the newsroom. But it’s a serious subject to anyone who walks the trails, and a problem I found that was not just limited to Boise, but to other communities around the country. Scientifically, the waste can spread disease and even threaten the ecosystem by pushing out native grasses. For cities like Boise that have to manage the problem, it’s no laughing matter.  - Samantha Wright

Listen: Tracking Dog Poop, A Sticky Problem In the Boise Foothills

Same-Sex Couples Exchange Wedding Vows In Idaho

In 2014, gay couples started getting married in Idaho. However you feel about same-sex marriage, that is an historical change few people would have predicted not long ago.

I was privileged to witness and chronicle that first draft of history throughout the year. In the spring I introduced you to some of the couples suing to overturn Idaho’s constitutional amendment banning same sex-marriage.

And in the fall, I brought you along as one of those couples said their vows after a federal appeals court ruled in their favor. - Adam Cotterell

Listen: From Writing Vows To Saying Them, One Idaho Couple's Journey To Historic Gay Marriage

Uncovering Forgotten History In Boise

Quite by accident I learned that much of Boise had been buried in a landslide 55 years ago. As a Boise lifer (nearly), I was flabbergasted that I had never heard of it. It was fun to investigate that disaster -- no one was hurt but a lot of Boiseans had to shovel mud out of their living rooms. And it was immensely frustrating trying to track down decades-old records (some seemingly lost for good) on the huge landslide mitigation project the slide prompted. But it answered a childhood question of mine: Why are there horizontal stripes on the foothills? - Adam Cotterell

Listen: A Landslide Buried Boise In Mud 55 Years Ago, Scientists Say It Could Happen Again

It's incredibly hard to pick just a few of our favorite stories from 2014.

We also introduced you to a young girl with a rare medical condition who just might change Idaho lawmakers' minds about medical marijuana. We introduced you to five remarkable Boise artists trying to make their mark. We continue to produce government transparency stories, explaining why it's tough to track lobbyist activity in the Statehouse.

There's no doubt 2015 will mean even more local news coverage. We can't wait to share it with you.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio