Election day (and night) live blog

7:06 a.m.: Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde headed a list of six legislative incumbents who appeared headed to defeat Tuesday.

Goedde was trailing Mary Souza, a longtime activist who ran unsuccessfully for Coeur d’Alene mayor in 2013. Goedde had served 14 years in the Senate. He was a vocal supporter of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 and a member of Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force.

Souza captured 1,853 votes, a 53.9 percent majority, according to state results this morning; Goedde trailed with 1,587 votes.

With Goedde’s apparent ouster, the nine-member Senate Education Committee will take on a different look. Sen. Monty Pearce, a committee member and 16-year Statehouse veteran, also was headed to defeat Tuesday. Committee member Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, left the Legislature for an unsuccessful run for governor.

Abby Lee, a challenger carrying Otter’s endorsement, collected 3,663 votes, a 55.6 percent majority, to Pearce’s 2,921 votes.

In addition to Goedde and Pearce, four other lawmakers were headed to defeat: Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, a 14-year veteran who serves on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee; Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis, a colorful 22-year lawmaker who chaired the House Local Government Committee; Rep. Douglas Hancey, R-Rexburg, a first-term lawmaker who co-sponsored a pre-kindergarten pilot bill written by Boise Democratic Rep. Hy Kloc; and Rep. Ed Morse, a first-term Hayden Republican.

Several other Republican incumbents survived close challenges Tuesday, including House Education Committee Vice Chairman Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home; Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, a JFAC member who has carried K-12 budget bills on the House floor in recent years; Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, a JFAC vice chairwoman; and Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Surviving a testy but not as close challenge was Sen. Bob Nonini, a high-profile conservative and member of the Senate Education Committee. He captured nearly 65 percent of the vote in defeating Patrick Whalen, a challenger endorsed by Otter.

In other races with K-12 connections:

  • New Plymouth superintendent Ryan Kerby captured the GOP nomination for a House seat in District 9, gaining 54.4 percent of the vote. Kerby is hoping to succeed Rep. Lawerence Denney, the leader in the GOP’s secretary of state race.
  • Boise school teacher John McCrostie captured the Democratic nomination for an open House seat in District 16. McCrostie garnered 52.6 percent of the vote, defeating former NFL player and congressional candidate Jimmy Farris and a third candidate, Jeff Stephenson.
  • Melissa Wintrow won the Democrats’ nomination for an open House seat in Boise’s District 19, collecting 52.6 percent of the vote to outpoll Boise School Board member Troy Rohn. Wintrow is hoping to succeed Holli Woodings, the Democrats’ secretary of state candidate.

For full legislative results, click here.

6:42 a.m.: The hotly contested Kuna school levy — trailing much of Election Night — emerged victorious early Wednesday morning.

The two-year, $6.38 million levy passed with 2,533 yes votes, or a 52.7 percent majority, while 2,272 voters said no. The levy needed only a simple majority to pass — and as of 1 a.m., the levy led by a scant two-vote margin.

Late numbers from Ada County pushed the levy over the top. While 53.7 percent of Ada County patrons passed the levy, it did not fare as well in the Canyon County precincts that make up a sliver of the school district. In rural Canyon County, 56.9 percent of voters opposed the levy.

Tuesday was the second go-round for this levy. Voters narrowly rejected an identical levy in March.

This time around, voter interest ran high. Some Kuna precincts reported long lines and a shortage of ballots, as poll officials scrambled to print off duplicate ballots. Turnout in the Ada County precincts approached 42.8 percent. All told, more than 4,800 patrons voted in the levy; in March, only 2,193 people voted, as turnout scraped below 20 percent.

Next up in Kuna: an expected August recall election against School Board member Michael Law, who opposed both levies.

Click back later today for statewide levy results.

6:42 a.m.: The quick rundown of the statewide GOP primary leaders and winners:

  • Governor: Butch Otter (incumbent).
  • State schools superintendent: Sherri Ybarra.
  • Lieutenant governor: Brad Little (incumbent).
  • Secretary of state: Lawerence Denney.
  • Attorney general: Lawrence Wasden (incumbent).
  • Controller: Brandon Woolf (incumbent).

To read more about Ybarra’s seemingly insurmountable lead, click here. And for the numbers, click here.




1:32 a.m.: I’m calling it a wrap at this blog — at least until early morning. We’ll pick up the final numbers first thing. Good night, and thanks for hanging in.

1:21 a.m.: With a new round of Ada County numbers, the Kuna school levy has pulled ahead by nearly 100 votes.

The levy now has 1,204 yes votes, or 51.9 percent support, to 1,115 no votes.

The votes are all but tabulated in both Ada and Canyon counties — and the Kuna district has precincts in both counties. There are only five precincts left uncounted in Ada County, and one in Canyon County.

1:01 a.m.: It can’t get any closer in Kuna.

With another round of Canyon County numbers in, the two-year, $6.38 million levy now leads, 861-859. It needs only a simple majority to pass.

There could still be a considerable number of Ada County numbers hanging fire, though. Ada County hasn’t updated its elections results in over an hour.

12:16 a.m.: One more incumbent legislator trailing: Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden.

So, again, that makes six incumbents trailing — a significant turnover if it holds.

12:04 a.m.: A crazy stat of the night (so far):

• $2,850.14: Money raised by Sherri Ybarra of Mountain Home, the leader in the superintendent’s primary.

• $61,262.25: Money raised by Ybarra’s three GOP opponents.

Details on the money race here.

11:57 p.m.: Quick update on the legislative upset alerts. Mountain Home GOP Rep. Pete Nielsen, House Education Committee vice chairman, has pulled ahead in his race. Nielsen has 2,048 votes, or 51 percent, to Buhl Republican Steve Millington’s 49 percent. Eighty-three votes separate the candidates.

11:45 p.m.: Several very interesting legislative upsets in the making — one involving Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde.

It’s hard to tell from the secretary of state’s numbers how many precincts are in — so a lot of these numbers can change. But let’s look at what we have at this point:

  • Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene now has 600 votes, or 51.2 percent, to Goedde’s 572 votes, or 48.8 percent.
  • Abby Lee is leading longtime state Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, a Senate Education Committee member. Lee has 3,173 votes, or 56.8 percent, to Pearce’s 43.2 percent.
  • Steve Millington of Buhl is leading Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, vice chairman of the House Education Committee. Millington has 1,483 votes, or 52.2 percent, to Nielsen’s 47.8 percent.
  • Ron Nate of Rexburg is leading Rep. Doug Hancey, R-Rexburg, a co-sponsor of a pre-kindergarten pilot project bill. Nate has 2,003 votes, or 56.5 percent, to Hancey’s 43.5 percent.

Two other longtime legislators are trailing at this point: Reps. Lenore Hardy Barrett, R-Challis; and George Eskridge, R-Dover.


11:31 p.m.: Interesting numbers in the superintendent’s primary from Canyon County — Andy Grover’s home county. Thirty-three of 64 precincts reporting.

Sherri Ybarra: 2,291, 29.9 percent.

Grover: 2,265, 29.6 percent.

Randy Jensen: 1,568, 20.5 percent.

John Eynon: 1,541, 20.1 percent.

11:22 p.m.: We have a nailbiter in progress in Kuna. The school levy is passing at this point — but barely. It has 705 yes votes to 693 no votes. The two-year, $6.38 million levy needs a simple majority to pass.

11:14 p.m.: With 39 percent of precincts in, Sherri Ybarra continues to hold a surprising lead in the superintendent’s primary. She has 16,079 votes, or 30 percent. That’s about a 1,500-vote lead over American Falls principal Randy Jensen, who has 14,534 votes, or 27 percent. Melba district Superintendent Andy Grover is in third with 12,889 votes, or 24 percent. Cottonwood teacher John Eynon trails with 10,269 votes, or 19 percent.

10:24 p.m.: State Rep. Lawerence Denney has pulled ahead, by about 600 votes, in the four-way GOP race for secretary of state. That’s with about 13 percent of precincts reporting, so numbers are still early.

At this stage, though, Denney is the only one of the Liberty Caucus conservative candidates with a lead tonight. The Associated Press has already called the lieutenant governor’s race for incumbent Brad Little. Three fellow incumbents — Gov. Butch Otter, Controller Brandon Woolf and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden — are winning their respective races. Conservative candidate John Eynon is trailing in the open, four-way race for state superintendent.

10:00 p.m.: Early numbers on the Kuna school levy: 211 yes, 345 no. That’s a total from the early results from Ada and Canyon counties. The levy is trailing in both counties — and really struggled in Canyon County in March.

The levy needs a simple majority to pass.

9:48 p.m.: With 8 percent of precincts counted, Mountain Home administrator Sherri Ybarra is leading Andy Grover by less than 400 votes in GOP state superintendent’s race. Here is Jennifer Swindell’s profile of Ybarra.

9:37 p.m.: Statewide results, with 71 of 942 precincts in.

REP Walt Bayes 218 1.5%
REP Harley D. Brown 367 2.5%
REP Russell M. Fulcher 6,052 41.7%
REP C.L. “Butch” Otter 7,884 54.3%
DEM A.J. Balukoff 1,593 73.2%
DEM Terry Kerr 582 26.8%

Lieutenant Governor
REP Jim Chmelik 3,455 25.3%
REP Brad Little 10,202 74.7%
DEM Bert Marley 1,995 100.0%

Secretary of State
REP Lawerence E. Denney 4,031 30.4%
REP Evan S. Frasure 2,285 17.2%
REP Phil McGrane 4,471 33.7%
REP Mitch Toryanski 2,464 18.6%
DEM Holli Woodings 2,031 100.0%

State Controller
REP Todd Hatfield 5,473 42.9%
REP Brandon D Woolf 7,274 57.1%
REP Ron Crane 11,723 100.0%

State Treasurer
DEM Deborah Silver 1,746 85.6%
DEM W. Lane Startin 294 14.4%

Attorney General
REP C.T. “Chris” Troupis 4,715 34.4%
REP Lawrence Wasden 9,011 65.6%
DEM Bruce S. Bistline 1,945 100.0%

Superintendent of Public Instruction
REP John R. Eynon 2,353 18.4%
REP Andrew Grover 3,765 29.4%
REP Randy Jensen 2,759 21.5%
REP Sherri Ybarra 3,942 30.8%


9:11 p.m.: One down, 941 to go. We have the very first numbers — from one of the state’s 942 voting precincts.

Check out the very early numbers here. And keep checking back with us through the night.

9:04 p.m.: More on the Kuna confusion, courtesy of Jake Melder from our broadcast partners at KIVI and KNIN.

Tara Hamilton says she was told at the polls to expect a 45-minute wait for ballots. “Pretty much the whole line went out,” she told Melder.

I also got an email earlier this evening from Sharon Fisher, one of the levy supporters. She told me, at about 7 p.m., that poll officials said they were out of ballots and were turning voters away. She later said that poll officials had new ballots. “We’re asking the people who were turned away to come back.”

I’m also hearing from Shelby Harris, a Kuna Middle School teacher, that the extra ballots did arrive — and anyone in line before the polls closed at 8 p.m. had their chance to vote.

At stake is a two-year, $6.38 million school levy — identical to the one narrowly rejected in March.

I’ll be on KNIN at 9 p.m. and KIVI at 10 p.m. trying to help sort out the election results. At this rate, Kuna’s numbers could be a while.

6:57 p.m.: One look at the voter turnout comes from Kuna — a traditional conservative hotbed with a closely contested school levy on the ballot.

According to TV reports, polling places in Kuna are scrambling to handle heavy turnout Tuesday.

Here’s one tweet, from KTVB reporter Jamie Grey: “3 Kuna precincts out of ballots. Clerk says if you are IN LINE by 8:00pm, they WILL get you a ballot. They are asking for patience.”

And a tweet from Glen Beeby of KBOI: “Polling places in Kuna running out of Republican ballots with so many voting on levy. More being printed & rushed out there.”

The two-year, $6.38 million Kuna levy — a repeat from the failed March 11 levy — is one we’ll be watching closely. We’ll have results on our live results page as the numbers start rolling in — sometime after 9 p.m.

9:07 a.m.: For a little national perspective on Idaho’s primary, here’s a look from National Public Radio’s Charles Mahtesian:

Mahtesian couldn’t pass up a mention of fringe gubernatorial candidate Harley Brown’s take on a race involving a choice between “a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker or a normal guy“.

“The dynamics of the primary aren’t quite that simple,” Mahtesian said. “The debate freak show obscured a surprisingly competitive Tea Party challenge to incumbent GOP Gov. Butch Otter — a contest that’s taking place against a backdrop of an ongoing war for the soul of the Idaho Republican Party.”

He suggests that a typically low primary voter turnout could provide an opening for Fulcher and fellow Tea Party candidates.

However, Mahtesian isn’t expecting fireworks in the 2nd Congressional District race between incumbent Mike Simpson and conservative challenger Bryan Smith.

“The race, once expected to be a barnburner, has proved to be anticlimactic. … Smith’s support came from groups like the Club for Growth — which, in a sign of Smith’s declining fortunes, essentially pulled out of the race last month.”

7:42 a.m.: Welcome to our Election Day (and Election Night) live blog.

While the polls are open, I’ll update this site as news develops. Word of warning: We won’t see any numbers until 9 p.m. MDT at the earliest, since the polls in North Idaho remain open until 8 p.m. PDT.

But when the numbers start rolling out, I’ll update this blog throughout Election Night, as we get results and glean reactions from the candidates and via social media. I’ll try to combine some results and some instant analysis as the night unfolds. And since I suspect it will be a late night gathering results, we’ll clean up the loose ends Wednesday.

A roadmap to the rest of our coverage:

  • We will have up-to-date numbers on the statewide races — and the hotly contested Kuna school levy election — at idahoednews.org. Just bookmark this link; we’ll provide up-to-the-minute results.
  • Jennifer Swindell will be at the Republicans’ election night gathering, collecting reactions and quotes.
  • Treasure Valley viewers: You can catch me on KNIN TV, Channel 9, during the 9 p.m. newscast, offering some early reactions on the results. Then, Idaho On Your Side switches its coverage to KIVI at 10 p.m., and we’ll continue the coverage there.
  • Clark Corbin will take part in an online Election Night chat at Idahostatesman.com between 8 and 9:30 p.m.
  • To get caught up on our coverage of the state superintendent’s race, click here. For other primary coverage, click here. For a refresher on voting ground rules, click here.

If you have any questions, tips or comments from election day, please pass them along here, and I’ll do my best to respond.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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