Ybarra wins GOP superintendent’s primary

(UPDATED, 3:03 p.m. Wednesday, with final results.)

State superintendent’s hopeful Sherri Ybarra won the hotly contested GOP primary election Tuesday.

Sherri Ybarra
Sherri Ybarra

According to complete but unofficial results posted Wednesday afternoon, Ybarra captured 38,603 votes, or 28.5 percent of the vote. Ybarra is a federal programs administrator in the Mountain Home School District. (Here is our May 6 profile of Ybarra.)

American Falls principal Randy Jensen followed with 24.3 percent, and Cottonwood music teacher John Eynon came in third at 24 percent. Melba superintendent Andy Grover finished fourth with 23.3 percent.

Ybarra wound up prevailing over Jensen by 5,663 votes.

Grover conceded the outcome at 8 a.m.

“I wish the Sherri the best,” he said. “I appreciate all the people of Idaho who supported us. I don’t know what’s next for me.”

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The winner of the GOP state superintendent primary will face Democrat Jana Jones in November’s general election.

Andy Grover
State Superintendent hopeful Andy Grover, second from left, visits with Tom Luna while awaiting election results Tuesday in Boise.

Several Republican candidates gathered at the Riverside Hotel in Boise for watch parties and rallies. Most of them left for their rooms or suites, leaving the ballroom mostly empty by 12:15 a.m. A few were on hand to hear Attorney General Lawrence Wasden accept victory.

Ybarra, Eynon and Jensen did not appear to attend the GOP watch party in Boise. Multiple efforts to reach Ybarra at her Mountain Home residence and via email were not successful Tuesday night.

As 1 a.m. approached, Jensen said he was going to bed.

“I don’t think (Ybarra) can lose it, at this point,” Jensen said.

The race remained relatively tight all evening. When Jensen decided to call it a night, all four candidates were hovering between 22 and 29 percent.

“It’s been interesting that it’s been this close,” Jensen said. “I don’t think there has ever been a four-way race like this.”

Grover had been in and out of the main ballroom, even taking time to visit with outgoing State Superintendent Tom Luna.

Meanwhile, Gov. Butch Otter won the GOP nomination as he seeks a third term.

Otter collected 79,786 votes, or 51.4 percent, to defeat his main challenger Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. Fulcher picked up 43.6 percent of the vote, trailing Otter by 12,084 votes.

Walt Bayes and Harley Brown — who collectively caused an Internet and mass media stir after their outlandish comments at a gubernatorial debate on May 14 — combined for 5.1 percent of the vote.

In other statewide races, Lt. Gov. Brad Little won the GOP nomination, while state Rep. Lawerence Denney won a four-way secretary of state’s race and incumbent Controller Brandon Woolf narrowly won the GOP nomination.

More reading: How did Sherri Ybarra pull the upset?