11.22.21: Wasden joins crowded attorney general’s race
Idaho’s longest-serving attorney general wants another four years on the job.
Incumbent Lawrence Wasden broke his long silence on his political future Monday, saying he will seek a sixth term.
“(I) still feel I have something to offer,” Wasden said in a news release Monday.
Wasden’s announcement sets the stage for a crowded and contentious GOP primary. Former U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador jumped into the attorney general’s race Wednesday. Also in the running are Art Macomber of Coeur d’Alene and Dennis Boyles of Sandpoint, who have been aligned with Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a gubernatorial candidate.
No Democrat has announced in the race.
In his statement, Wasden underscored his willingness to call “legal balls and strikes fairly and squarely.”
“This has been my guiding principle from Day One and I believe in it as strongly as ever today,” Wasden said. “An attorney general does not provide their clients or their state any value by giving them the legal counsel they want to hear or that is politically convenient. Rather, my goal has always been to provide counsel that is soundly rooted in the Rule of Law. This approach has served Idaho well and it’s important to maintain this consistency in 2023 and beyond.”
That statement appeared to be a veiled reference to Labrador, who dinged Wasden last week for his contentious relationship with lawmakers of his own party. “It is critical that we have a new attorney general who can work with the Legislature to craft legislation to withstand judicial tests and protect Idaho’s sovereignty,” Labrador said last week.
A former Canyon and Owyhee county prosecutor, Wasden has worked in the attorney general’s office since 1989, when he was hired as a deputy assigned to the State Tax Commission.
He was first elected attorney general in 2002.
11.21.21: Malek exits lieutenant governor’s race, endorses Bedke
Some breaking political news on a Sunday night: Former legislator Luke Malek pulled out of the lieutenant governor’s race and threw his support behind House Speaker Scott Bedke.
Malek made the announcement over social media.
“To prevent extremism from gaining another foothold in Idaho politics, and out of respect for my longtime friend and fellow conservative candidate, Scott Bedke, stepping aside is the best decision I can make for Idaho right now.”
The announcement contained more than one thinly veiled snipe at Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a hardline conservative who now will face Bedke in a one-on-one GOP primary. “Extremist politics has … rejected common-sense education funding that is crucial to our present and future economy.”
Giddings was a leading opponent of a three-year, $6 million a year federal early education grant. A divided House voted this year to reject the grant.
In a statement Sunday night, Bedke praised Malek.
“I am humbled by his willingness to step aside and put his trust in me,” Bedke said. “I promise to be the conservative leader our state needs to ensure Idaho continues to be a place where our families grow and thrive.”
More on Sunday night’s story from Kelcie Moseley-Morris of the Idaho Capital Sun.
11.21.21: Lodge won’t seek re-election in 2022
Idaho’s longest-serving current senator will not seek re-election next year.
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, revealed her plans to Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press last week.
“I’ve always said that I would retire at reapportionment, I’ve always said that,” Lodge told Russell. “So it worked out.”
Reapportionment would have thrown Lodge in the same legislative district with Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa. Under the plan drawn up by a bipartisan redistricting commission, Lodge and Lakey both live in a reconfigured legislative District 23.
This is just one of several dominoes likely to fall in the weeks and months to come. In another three of Idaho’s 35 districts, the map puts incumbent GOP senators in the same district.
Lodge is serving her 11th term in the Senate. She chairs the powerful Senate State Affairs Committee.