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Analysis: Who Won, Who Lost In Idaho's Primary

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James Dawson
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Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) lost his re-election bid Tuesday. But the ultra conservative wing of the Republican Party overall is poised to gain a seat in the state Senate.

Tuesday’s primary results saw the right-wing faction of the Republican gain ground in the Idaho House, but it also potentially netted an even bigger prize.

Editor’s note: This story originally stated the right wing of the Idaho GOP lost a seat in the state House of Representatives. That’s incorrect. The faction ultimately gained seats there. This story has since been updated. We regret the error.

Rep. Christy Zito (R-Hammett) won an open primary race for the state Senate last night to replace retiring Sen. Bert Brackett (R-Rogerson), which could push the chamber further to the right.

Boise State University political science professor Jaclyn Kettler said even if Zito can’t individually push her ideas past a committee hearing, she’s still another vote that could challenge more moderate lawmakers.

“Sometimes an individual member may be very limited in how much they can actually do. But, if they have enough numbers, that can act as kind of a check on kind of the governing faction,” Kettler said.

Tuesday night was ultimately a big boon for right-wing Republicans on the House side, too. While incumbent Rep. Bryan Zollinger (R-Idaho Falls) narrowly lost to Marco Erickson, the faction knocked off several, more moderate incumbents.

Former lawmakers Karey Hanks and Ron Nate propelled themselves back onto the political stage by upsetting Reps. Jerald Raymond (R-Menan) and Britt Raybould (R-Rexburg).

Nampa attorney Bruce Skaug was unopposed for the Republican nomination to replace Rep. Robert Anderst (R-Nampa) and Afghan war vet Ben Adams won a four-way race to take over for retiring Rep. Gary Collins (R-Nampa).

Retired educator Julie Yamamoto also beat incumbent Rep. Jarom Wagoner (R-Caldwell) and former Ada County Republican Party chairman Greg Ferch will fill Rep. Megan Kiska’s (R-Boise) seat after she steps down later this year.

Wayne Hoffman, president of the influential libertarian lobbying group, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, wrote in a Facebook post, “Voters in Idaho have potentially produced the most conservative House of Representatives in the state’s history.”

Right now, about 15 to 20 Idaho House lawmakers out of 70 tend to fall along these ideological lines – enough to gum up legislation, especially budget bills, when the entire chamber comes together for a vote.

These votes are also critical in committees that only have a handful of lawmakers on them, as they are the ultimate gatekeepers deciding whether or not to allow a bill to move to the full House or Senate for consideration.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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