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Politics & Government

Here are the key primary election results in Idaho

Idaho primary election 2022
Boise State Public Radio
Voters head to the polls May 17, 2022. All statewide elected offices are up for election, with the closed Republican Party primary deciding the winner of most races.
Statewide results
Governor
U.S. Senate
U.S. House 2nd District
Governor
U.S. Senate
U.S. House 2nd District

11:40 p.m. – Early results signal shake-up for Superintendent of Public Instruction 

Debbie Critchfield continues to pull ahead of incumbent Sherri Ybarra in the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction primary, though only about 16% of counties are reporting full results.

The current votes in are tallied at 43.3% for Critchfield, 29.0% for Ybarra and 27.7% for Branden Durst, a far-right candidate.

Ybarra, from Mountain Home, has been in the role since 2014. Critchfield is the former president of the Idaho State Board of Education and has the backing of several sitting lawmakers.

10:35 p.m. – AP calls race for Gov. Brad Little

From the Associated Press: Gov. Brad Little wins Republican nomination in Primary election.

Gov. Brad Little standing at a podium in front of a small crowd of people.
Boise State Public Radio

10:32 p.m. – Ketchum LOT comes up short

The city of Ketchum’s plans to address affordable housing through changes to its local option tax was shot down Tuesday night. Only about 54% of voters supported raising the taxes on retail, liquor, hotels and short-term rentals for a specific workforce housing fund, and the city needed 60% of voter approval.

Just last week, city council members signed off on an extensive housing action plan, which includes distributing emergency rental assistance, securing deed restrictions on housing units and incentivizing homeowners to rent to local workers. But this election result may pose a challenge to the implementation of that plan.

The city has used ARPA funds for housing-related programs, and will likely apply for some support from the state’s recently developed workforce housing fund, but said the $3 million annually it could’ve generated from this LOT change would’ve been crucial to its ability to reverse its long-term challenges with affordable housing.

10:07 p.m. – Treasure Valley incumbents (mostly) lead at the moment

Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder is currently pulling ahead of his challenger, Rosa Martinez with about 55% of the vote. Far-right groups backed Martinez, exasperated by Winder’s refusal to take up controversial legislation this past session that would’ve criminalized transition-related healthcare and would’ve made it a misdemeanor for librarians to lend “harmful” materials to minors.

The other two seats in that legislative district, which covers West Boise and Meridian, also featured challenges from candidates supported by a PAC with direct ties to the far-right lobbying group, the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

With 42% of precincts reporting, Reps. James Holtzclaw and Joe Palmer are leading their opponents with 59% and 63% respectively.

9:39 p.m. – Early (very, very early) results trickle in

As of right now, about 14% of precincts in Ada County are reporting, meaning these results are highly likely to change later in the night.

But, for now, more moderate, mainstream Republicans are leading in Idaho’s largest county by population.

Gov. Brad Little is smashing the competition with 60% of the vote. House Speaker Scott Bedke has a nearly 30% advantage over state Rep. Priscilla Giddings to grab the open lieutenant governor’s seat.

But former Congressman Raul Labrador, whose popularity surges in rural areas of Idaho, is trailing incumbent Attorney General Lawrence Wasden by just a few hundred votes.

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Debbie Critchfield, the former president of the Idaho State Board of Education, is currently leading the Superintendent of Public Instruction race with 40%. Incumbent Secretary Sherri Ybarra trails with 32%, while far-right candidate Branden Durst has about 28% of the vote so far.

8:31 p.m.– Democrats aren’t showing up

Redistricting, which drew new maps for all 35 of Idaho’s legislative districts based on the latest census data, jumbled up the math for many incumbent lawmakers and challengers alike.

Democrats are trying to hold on to each of their 19 seats in the House and Senate, but the party fielded just 26 other candidates in 2022 to try to chip away at its super-minority status. That means Democrats aren’t running in 57% of all legislative races this season, ceding an automatic majority to Republicans.

8:06 p.m. – Election preview

Polls have closed in southern and eastern Idaho, but there’s still an hour left for those precincts above the time zone. Here’s a preview of the races and issues we’re watching as the results come in:

This election is a kind of laboratory for far-right ambitions across the country.

Far-right candidates are running for most statewide offices, challenging either incumbents or establishment favorites. And two militia members are running for legislative seats.

The most prominent of them is Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is challenging incumbent GOP Gov. Brad Little. McGeachin is close to the Three Percent militia and the conspiracy-minded John Birch Society and recently participated in a political conference organized by a white nationalist.

A strong showing by McGeachin and other far-right candidates could embolden that movement. It would likely bring already conservative Idaho politics farther to the right and perhaps be a bellwether for other candidates across the country espousing once-fringe views.

Another militia member running is Eric Parker, the founder of the Real 3%ers of Idaho. He’s up against two-term Idaho House Representative Laurie Lickley from Jerome for the District 26 Senate seat. Lickley has the backing of several large agricultural political action committees and major Idaho business groups.

This seat was left open after Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum announced her retirement earlier this year. Democrat Ron Taylor, a former Hailey fire captain, and Independent Donald Lappin of Sun Valley are also running for this seat in the general election. 

Alongside far-right candidates challenging incumbents or contesting open seats statewide, their hard push this election season has significant implications for the makeup of the state legislature.

Seventeen House and Senate candidates backed by a political action committee with direct ties to the far-right lobbying group, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, are trying to oust current lawmakers. Given that the existing House Freedom Caucus has about that many members, wins in most or all of those races would give them a near majority in the 70-person House – significantly strengthening their ability to shape the agenda, hold moderate legislation hostage or generally control how the body runs.

12:30 p.m. – Primary turnout

Voters across the Gem State head to the polls today to choose candidates for nearly every statewide and legislative seat in Idaho. Legislative runoffs, county elections, initiatives and school levies are also on Idaho ballots today. 

"Primary's are … they're okay. There are times that highlight some differences and see where we align and don't align, but they're not necessarily a time of division, and that's one of the things I love about the Idaho Republicans and young Republicans in general where immediately following the results of being announced we all come together as one family and our goals are to help keep Idaho red," said Daniel Silver, chairman for the Idaho Young Republicans.

Trent Tripple, chief deputy clerk and the person in charge of Ada County elections says if historical trends hold up, only about a third of Idaho’s registered voters will be casting a ballot

"Based off history, we're expecting anywhere between 30 to 35% of the 300,000 registered voters to show up. But we're always hopeful that people will show up in mass and we're ready for them if they do," he said.

And because Idaho is one of only 18 states that still offer same-day voter registration, Tripple says there’s always a possibility that voter turnout might exceed expectations.

"We have same-day registration here in the state of Idaho," Tripple said. "So don't worry. If you haven't registered, make sure you bring proof of residency and an ID in and we will take care of you and allow you to vote."

Polls remain open until 8 p.m. in local precincts.