Lt. Gov. Brad Little will become Idaho’s 33rd governor, following a resounding victory in Tuesday’s general election.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, Little led with 59.4 percent of the vote. Democrat Paulette Jordan had earned just 38.5 percent. More than 568,000 votes had been counted by 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
(Click here for the most recent result and Kevin Richert’s live blog, and click here for full coverage of the state superintendent’s race.)
Former Idaho lawmaker Jordan was attempting to become the first native American governor in U.S. history and Idaho’s first female governor. Her unprecedented run garnered national attention and a documentary following. Jordan proposed to legalize marijuana and fight climate change. She received the endorsement of singer-actress Cher, among other celebrities.
But it would be Little, a longtime elected official, who would continue his winning streak.
Little, 64, has served as lieutenant governor since January 2009, when he was appointed to the vacancy by Gov. Butch Otter. Little was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, earning no less than 62 percent of the vote each time out.
Otter endorsed Little, a third-generation Idaho rancher and Emmett business owner. Little became the Republican gubernatorial nominee after winning a primary over two other big-name Republicans — Boise developer and doctor Tommy Ahlquist and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador.
Little, a 1977 graduate of the University of Idaho, started his political career in 2001, when then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne appointed him to an open seat in Idaho’s Senate. He was elected to that position four times.
Little addressed the GOP crowd at the Riverside Hotel at 11:15 p.m. He thanked his family and volunteers and said it would be an honor to serve the people of Idaho.
Jordan, 38, a member of North Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene tribe, was a two-term state lawmaker who gave up her seat in early 2018 to run for governor. She defeated A J Balukoff in the May Democratic primary, defeating her party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee.
She addressed Democrats during an election-night party at the Grove Hotel, an 11 p.m. speech that came as the Associated Press’ called the race for Little. Jordan’s two sons and her mother stood by as she took considerable time to thank those who helped her campaign and to rally supporters. She did not concede as of midnight.
College of Western Idaho
The College of Western Idaho’s 10-year, $39 million plant facilities levy for a new health science building failed by the closest of margins on Wednesday morning.
The proposed levy needed 55 percent supermajority to pass — 54.9 percent voted in favor of the measure. The final numbers were calculated around 9 a.m. Wednesday. Of the 214 precincts, 127,324 voted in favor and 104,436 voted against it.
Meanwhile, the three-way contested race for a trustee position at CWI was just as close. Molly Lenty captured the seat with 38 percent of the vote. Her opponent Erin Sorensen earned 37.6 percent of the vote. Lenty’s total was 61,869 followed closely by Sorensen’s 61,322 votes. Shane Ostermeier trailed both, with 24.2 percent.
Middleton bond issues fail
The Middleton School District floated three separate bond issues totaling $28.8 million Tuesday, and voters defeated each, according to election results from Canyon County.
Two of the three issues had more “no” votes than “yes” votes, falling well short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass. A third, promoting school security, earned 57 percent support.
Middleton was seeking voter support following a local controversy that grabbed national attention. The district has placed 14 Heights Elementary School employees on leave after they wore what superintendent Josh Middleton called “inappropriate” Halloween costumes to school.
Similar bond issues failed in March and August, the latter proposal receiving 59 percent support.
Proposition One, the hotly contested initiative to legalize historical horse racing, was defeated, with only 46 percent support.
Proposition Two, the Medicaid expansion initiative, won easily. Final results Wednesday showed the initiative had almost 61 percent support.
Education funding factored into the debate over both measures. Prop One supporters said their initiative would boost public school funding by revitalizing horse racing, a claim questioned by opponents. Prop Two opponents said the cost of Medicaid expansion would threaten funding for schools and other state agencies. However, the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Education Association both endorsed Prop Two.
Idaho Education News’ Kevin Richert contributed to this report.