Breaking down Otter’s legislative endorsements

Gov. Butch Otter has had plenty of opinions these days — from supporting the West Ada school trustee recalls to condemning the Obama administration’s guidelines on transgender students.

Butch Otter
Gov. Butch Otter arrives at the Statehouse for his Jan. 11 State of the State address.

The governor has also found some time to weigh in on a dozen GOP legislative primaries. The Associated Press had the full rundown.

A couple of quick takeaways:

The challengers. Three challengers got Otter’s endorsement, and they aren’t too surprising. Otter endorsed Michael Dolton over Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale — but there’s no love lost between Otter and Boyle over the Idaho Education Network debacle.

Otter also endorsed Doug Ricks over Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and Megan Blanksma over Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, which aligns Otter with legislative leadership.

House Speaker Scott Bedke didn’t give any money to Nielsen, and Nielsen had to admit last week that he had misstated when he claimed Bedke’s backing. (Details from Kimberlee Kruesi of the AP.) Ricks, meanwhile, has gotten money from Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and Rep. Marc Gibbs, R-Grace — while Nate is another one of the four House Republicans who received no money from Bedke in advance of contested primaries Tuesday.

The status quo. The other nine endorsements hue to a mainstream line. Several of Otter’s choices — from Sen. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint to Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d’Alene to Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon — are facing conservative challengers backed by Idaho Freedom Action, a wing of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Keough also had the distinction of receiving $1,000 from the governor’s newly formed OtterPAC.

More reading: Click here for more details from the legislative money race.