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Democrats hold on to two south central Idaho legislative seats

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Hailey, Idaho
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Update: We have updated this story to reflect election result changes that were based on incorrect unofficial results shared by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office from Jerome County. Read more here: https://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/politics-government/2022-11-10/discrepancy-in-jerome-election-results-change-one-district-26-race-outcome

Democrats held onto two legislative seats in southern Idaho Tuesday night.

Two Democrats won their races in District 26, which includes Blaine, Lincoln and Jerome counties.

That means Ron Taylor, a Democrat and former fire captain from Hailey, will take retiring Senate Minority leader Michelle Stennett’s seat. Taylor faced off with two-term representative Republican Laurie Lickley of Jerome. He came out in the lead with 53% of the vote.

Lickley carried Jerome County by a large margin, securing about 80% of the vote there. Her campaign also out-fundraised Taylor, bringing in more than $120,000 before the election compared to Taylor’s $74,000.

She also garnered some notable endorsements, including from the Idaho Education Association, Conservation Voters for Idaho and the Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho, despite her opponent’s former occupation.

But turnout could have made the biggest difference in the race. Nearly one-and-a-half times as many people cast ballots in the senate race in liberal Blaine County than Jerome and Lincoln combined.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Lickley faced opposing advertisements related to her support for Idaho’s abortion trigger ban. She said, though she is staunchly anti-abortion, she thought the wording in the abortion law might need some re-working.

Taylor, endorsed by Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said his presence in the statehouse could help block further legislative limiting reproductive rights.

Rep. Ned Burns (D-Bellevue) kept his seat in the statehouse.

Republican Jack Nelsen from Jerome will represent the district in the other house seat.

Unofficial election results initially pointed to Democrat Karma Metzler Fitzgerald of Shoshone as the winner, but in a press release sent Thursday, the Idaho Secretary of State's office said an error meant not all results from Jerome County showed up on its public results page on election night.

In campaigning, Republican candidates in the district pitched themselves as moderates and Democrats hoped to keep the seats that have long-been important to the statewide party.

For more than 40 years in a row, the legislature has had a Democratic senator from the district including the Wood River Valley.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.