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GOP incumbents Winder, Yamamoto ousted by primary challengers

Republican State Senator Chuck Winder stands wearing a suit in front of a red curtain
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Republican incumbent Chuck Winder was defeated on Tuesday for the District 20 Senate seat.

Republicans Chuck Winder – a longtime state senator and the body’s president pro tempore – and Julie Yamamoto – chair of the House Education Committee – both lost their primary races Tuesday night.

In the District 20 Senate race, Winder was bested by challenger Josh Keyser by nearly 5 percentage points, according to unofficial but fully reported results. Yamamoto went down by nearly 14 points to Kent Marmon in District 11.

“He's done a great job over the years,” Keyser said of Winder. “I could certainly learn a lot from him, but, you know, I think the community was ready for a change in leadership. And, you know, I did the work that it required of me to see a victory.”

In a text, Winder congratulated Keyser on his win, and thanked the voters that had repeatedly reelected him “for allowing me to represent them in the Idaho Senate for almost 16 years!”

Keyser will face Democrat Andy Arriaga, who ran unopposed, in the November general election. The GOP candidate said he’ll start gearing up for that race in the fall, but for now is “going to focus on some much needed rest and time with family.”

In the District 11 House race, Yamamoto said she wished Marmon well “because as he does well, Idaho does well.”

“One thing I do know about him is that he was keeping up on what was going on because I think he had decided early on he was going to run,” she said of Marmon. “So that helps, because then he has an idea of what's been in play and what will probably be still in play.”

She pointed to low turnout as a possible factor in her opponent’s victory.

Looking back at her two terms, Yamamoto said she was most proud of helping block educational savings accounts.

Discussing some of the heated debates surrounding education policy that she was a part of, she said “this working from fear and anger, I always think those are emotions you have and they're viable emotions, but they should be places we visit. You shouldn't camp out in fear and anger. And I feel like that a certain component of folks have sort of made it their camp, and they make a lot of money off of it. And I don't think it's to our benefit, as Idahoans legislate based on fear and anger.”

“I wouldn't want to end without saying how much I appreciate the opportunity I was given,” she said of her tenure. “And I know everybody says that, but you just have to understand that it really is a gift.”

As Boise State Public Radio's Mountain West News Bureau reporter, I try to leverage my past experience as a wildland firefighter to provide listeners with informed coverage of a number of key issues in wildland fire. I’m especially interested in efforts to improve the famously challenging and dangerous working conditions on the fireline.

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