Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Idaho Governor- Race of the Day

84 Days Until Election Day

Idaho Governor

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Likely Republican

As he is approaching 12 years in office as Governor, and after 10 consecutive electoral victories, Republican Butch Otter is stepping away from the job he has held longer than any current Governor, and the one which he had long coveted beforehand. He indicated towards the end of the 2014 election that it would be his last term, and cited his wife, saying if he ran again, it would have to be as a bachelor. Interestingly enough, Otter's wife Lori, whom is 25 years younger and a former Miss Idaho, whom married her husband shortly before he became Governor, was thought of a possible successor. However, the First Lady is not seeking elective office this year.

After passing on a 2014 primary challenge, it appears that Congressman Raul Labrador was intent on running for Governor this cycle regardless of the opposition. Puerto Rican born and Las Vegas raised, Labrador moved to his wife's home state in 1991 and practiced immigration law. He entered politics and in 2008 was elected to Congress. On Capitol Hill, he became known as one of the conservative rebels who often chafed at the GOP leadership. He made his own bids to become the top House Republican but fell well short of having enough support. He did receive backing for his bid for Governor by such nationally known figures as Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Labrador would be far from the only GOP Gubernatorial candidate though. A variety of little known or colorful characters seem to always get on the ballot and occasionally take part in televised debates. This year though, there were three main contenders competing in the May primary. In addition to Labrador, businessman and physician Tommy Ahlquist entered the race. Like Labrador, a member of the LDS Church, Ahlquist stressed his outsider credentials and brought Mitt Romney to the state to campaign for him.

The Idaho Republican establishment though seemed to be firmly behind the candidacy of Lt. Governor Brad Little. He had the support of Otter, as well as past Idaho Governors, as well as current and past Senators and Congressmen. While the polls at times looked iffy for Little, on Primary Day, he won 37 percent of the vote, to Labrador's 33 percent, as he joined a string of House Republicans who have failed to win statewide nominations. Ahlquist finished third with 26 percent.

Democrats are strongly outnumbered by Republicans in Idaho, but also held their own primary of course. The 2014 party nominee ran again and like Little had the support of most his party's establishment. A.J. Balukoff is a businessman who serves on the Boise School District. In 2014, he tried to cut a moderate image and spent three million dollars of his own money. He was believed to be about as strong of a candidate that could be found against the politically weakened Otter at the time, and he lost by 15 percent.

This year, Democrats in Idaho decided to go for a much younger and more liberal candidate. Thirty-eight year old Paulette Jordan resigned her seat in the State House to run for Governor. She received left-wing support from some places around the country, but also clicked with Idaho party activists, whom in their conservative state had delivered a blowout win to Bernie Sanders in 2016 Presidential caucus. Despite her progressive bona fides, she has tried to take a middle ground approach on gun rights. If she wins, she would become the nation's first Native American Governor. Democrats also nominated a Native American politician in 1994, who ran to succeed a Democrat. He lost that race and the party has been shut out in Boise ever since.

There is not much in the way of polling at this point, but it is also true that Republicans had a competitive three-way primary and the party may not be totally united around Little. After so many years of Republicans as Governor, and with Otter in office, there may be a desire to change that would probably be seen in a high number of undecided voters and a somewhat less than overwhelming lead for Little over his Democrat opponent. None of that is too surprising or inconsistent with some recent Idaho Gubernatorial polls from past cycles. Republicans tend to close late there and win by a stronger margin at the end.

While it is too early to determine that this race may already be over, or to question if Democrats might have been in a better position with a more moderate candidate, Little is pretty likely to win another term for his party, and probably by a solid margin at the end.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

5 D,  (2 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup) 
6 R (2 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

12 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Leans, 2 Tossup)
13 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Leans, 1 Tossup)


At 1:37 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

Little wins BIGLY.


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