The superintendent’s race: a done deal?

Sherri Ybarra square
Sherri Ybarra

I’m catching up here on my blog, after a 10-day vacation, and I wanted to draw some overdue attention to another blog post about the state superintendent’s race.

Idaho Public Television’s Melissa Davlin got an interesting nugget of news from an interview with Steven Yates, the new Idaho Republican Party chairman.

Writes Davlin: “Nearly every Republican I’ve spoken to has said Sherri Ybarra is in real danger of losing, or has already lost. In an Aug. 4 interview with Idaho Reports, newly elected GOP chairman Steve Yates acknowledged many Idaho Republicans have said they’re coming to terms with losing the superintendent race to the Democrats, and said while he’s still confident Ybarra can win, he hadn’t yet spoken with or met her.”

As I’ve talked to education stakeholders and political junkies — from across the ideological spectrum — the unifying theme seems to be one of curiosity. Some people, like Yates, say they still haven’t met Ybarra. They say they’re still trying to get a read on the Mountain Home school administrator, the surprise winner in the May 20 GOP primary. For many people in political and education circles, Democratic nominee Jana Jones may be the better known commodity: a former deputy state superintendent who narrowly lost in the 2006 state superintendent’s race.

Jana Jones Headshot 2
Jana Jones

Eleven weeks removed from the election, people still don’t seem to know exactly what to make of this race. And that’s a curiosity in itself.

During an Aug. 7 news conference, Ybarra voiced optimism about her campaign, her election team and her prospects on Nov. 4. But she also seemed on the defensive, as she deflected criticisms about missing an Idaho Association of School Administrators conference attended by Jones. And the unsavory headlines continued last week, as Ybarra agreed to remove Randy Jensen’s name from her campaign website; Jensen, the runner-up in the GOP superintendent’s primary, has made no endorsement in the general election.

The challenge facing Ybarra may be one of changing the election storyline — and one of introducing herself to voters.

 

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