Election preview 2016 — with an eye toward education

On Tuesday, Idahoans will help decide who has control over everything from the White House to the Statehouse.

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (local time) and Idahoans can register on Election Day at their polling place.

Ballots will be different depending on where Idahoans live. But — with an eye toward education — here is a preview of what to expect.

How many people are running for president?

Despite what you’ve read, this isn’t just about Donald J. Trump vs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. In Idaho, eight names will appear on the ballot, with the winner earning Idaho’s four electoral votes.

  • Independent Darrell L. Castle
  • Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Constitution Party candidate Scott Copeland
  • Independent Rocky De La Fuente
  • Libertarian Gary Johnson
  • Independent Evan McMullin
  • Independent Jill Stein
  • Republican Donald Trump

Legislative power struggle

All 105 seats in the Legislature expire this year, but only 66 races are contested next week. That’s right — 39 candidates can go to bed early on Election Day.

Among the 66 contested races, here are five with education implications:

District 15 House Seat B

  • Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise, vs. Jake Ellis, D-Boise. McDonald is the incumbent, and a member of the House Education Committee. Ellis is a former firefighter who is hoping to help Democrats make in-roads in this Republican district in West Boise.

District 15 House Seat A

  • Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, vs. Steve Berch, D-Boise. This is a rematch of the 2014 election, which Luker won by only 416 votes out of 12,814 ballots cast.

District 5 Senate

  • Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, vs. Dan Foreman, R-Moscow. Schmidt is the incumbent and serves on the budget-setting Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which sets the school budgets every year. He enjoys a large campaign fundraising edge over his challenger. But Republicans would love to turn one of North Idaho’s only Democratic footholds a darker shade of red. Within this district, Democrats currently control the Senate seat and one of two House seats. Republican Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy holds the other House seat, and she finds herself in a three-way race on Tuesday.

District 26, House Seat A

  • Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, vs. Kathleen Eder, D-Hailey. Miller is the incumbent and a member of the budget-setting JFAC. Eder is hoping to help Democrats sweep the district — Dems hold the district’s Senate and other House seats, although both will be contested Tuesday and there is no incumbent featured in the other House race due to the retirement of Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding.

District 6 House Seat A

  • Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, vs. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston. Rusche is the incumbent and a member of the Democratic Party’s leadership team, serving as House minority leader. But Kingsley has the backing of all four Republican members of the House’s majority leadership team. This is also a rematch of a razor-thin 2014 race. Two years ago, Rusche beat Kinglsey by just 48 votes. Meanwhile, Republicans controlled the district’s Senate seat and Democrats secured the other House seat two years ago.

For more information on legislative races, check out Kevin Richert’s campaign finance coverage.

HJR what?

Idaho voters have the final say on amending the Idaho Constitution. At issue here are the complex legislative rule-making procedures.

Supporters of the amendment say the HJR5 is necessary to protect the current practice of legislators approving or rejecting rules written by state agencies. That’s the way the process works today, and backers say the amendment is necessary to make sure an activist court doesn’t block or change that.

Opponents of the amendment, including Gov. Butch Otter, describe the amendment as a power-grab that could have far-reaching consequences because of the way the amendment is worded to allow legislators to have the final say in rejecting rules “in whole or in part.”

In Idaho, rules are important because, once adopted, they have the force and affect of law.

Secret note to trivia buffs: The HJR portion of HJR5 stands for House Joint Resolution, which is the form that the proposed amendment originally took upon its introduction during the 2016 Legislative session. The five signifies it was the fifth such resolution introduced this year. To make matters more confusing, not all House Joint Resolutions contain proposed constitutional amendments — in fact, most don’t.

The amendment has already cleared both legislative chambers. It needs to win a simple majority of votes on Tuesday to be approved.

Richert published an excellent primer on HJR 5 earlier this fall.

Supreme Court

The top two vote-getters from May’s primary election advanced to Tuesday’s ballot. This race is a little bit unusual because Supreme Court elections are nonpartisan in Idaho.

The two candidates on the ballot are Curt McKenzie and Robin Brody.

McKenzie has served seven terms in the Idaho Senate as a Republican from the Treasure Valley. Brody is a longtime attorney from the Magic Valley.

Know before you go

If you haven’t voted in a while, or if you have moved since the last election, your polling place may be different than before. No worries. Idahoans can check the location of their polling place and whether or not they are registered to vote using a few simple mouse clicks. Head to www.idahovotes.gov to verify if you’re registered and double-check where to vote.

Register at the polls

If you aren’t registered to vote, you can still register on Election Day. Just remember to bring your current driver’s license and proof of address, such as your most recent utility bill with your name and address printed on it.

Live coverage

After 9 p.m. Tuesday, check www.IdahoEdNews.org for live election results from across the state. We’ll post updated results from the presidential election in Idaho, a handful of key legislative races, the Supreme Court race and the results of HJR5. If you’re on social media, follow @IdahoEdNews on Twitter for Election Day updates. If you live in the Treasure Valley, watch EdNews reporter Kevin Richert analyze the results live on KIVI Channel 6 on Your Side.


Clark Corbin

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