When midnight struck on one of the most hotly contested Idaho elections in years, Lt. Gov. Brad Little emerged victorious.
In the wide-open GOP gubernatorial primary, Little earned 38 percent of the vote. U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Boise developer and physician Tommy Ahlquist trailed with 32 and 27 percent of the vote, respectively. Click here for our election results and Kevin’s Blog from election night.
Little addressed his supporters at midnight and said the victory “really is humbling.”
Little talked to Labrador and Ahlquist on election night and the trio stood together two days after the election at a Republican Unity Rally at the Statehouse steps when Little praised his opponents for a hard-fought primary and said “we’ll all be wearing one jersey to elect Republicans in Idaho.
“This was a pretty hard fought campaign, but it’s over now and we do what Republicans do and we rally around the team,” Little said. “Now it’s time to turn our attention to November.”
On the Democratic ticket, former legislator Paulette Jordan of Plummer cruised against longtime Boise School Board member A.J. Balukoff. Jordan earned 60 percent of the vote to Balukoff’s 38 percent to support the AP calling her a winner well before midnight. Minutes later Jordan tweeted, “Thank you, Idaho.”
This is Balukoff’s second run for governor — he lost handily four years ago to Otter. The 71-year-old has said education is his top issue.
Most Democratic lawmakers endorsed Balukoff, who awaited the results at the Democratic Party celebration at the Red Lion Riverside. Jordan did not attend and instead held her own event down the street at the HandleBar. Jordan’s followers chanted “this is what Idaho looks like” when she prepared to address them.
Democratic leadership from the Idaho House and Senate acknowledged Jordan’s victory at 11 p.m. with this statement: “We congratulate Paulette Jordan for her victory tonight. The primary has energized so many voters around the state and we sincerely hope that momentum carries into the general election.”
The letter was signed by Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb and Rep. Mat Erpelding, both of whom endorsed Balukoff.
Little has been labeled the establishment candidate because he carried Otter’s endorsement and because Little’s vision for education aligns with Otter’s — and, more specifically, the K-12 task force Otter convened in 2013.
After claiming the primary victory, Little promised to work toward creating “the best possible opportunities for our kids and grandkids to stay here and thrive here.” He also said he wants to “invest” in professional educators and the advancement of education.
This year’s race to be Idaho’s next governor is like no other — the running campaign finance tab has reached to a record $10.4 million with still five more months before the general election in November.
Idaho’s next governor will have the chance to chart Idaho’s education policy for the next four years — starting by writing education budgets that account for more than half of the state’s budget.
Ahlquist and Labrador opposed the idea of state-funded pre-K. Little said he opposes state-funded pre-K, but is open to early education block grants that could allow local districts to pursue optional pre-K.
Little said he supports Idaho’s Common Core standards.
Jordan said Idaho schools are underfunded and she is an ardent pre-K backer. While Balukoff said charter schools have failed to deliver on their promise of innovation, Jordan said charters fill niches in Idaho’s school system. Jordan sends her two sons to private school in Washington state.