Two of the four Republican candidates for state superintendent of public instruction did not vote in the Republican primary two years ago.
And according to county voting records, one candidate didn’t cast a ballot in the November 2012 general election, when Idahoans overturned three far-reaching education laws advanced by state superintendent Tom Luna.
In May 2012, for the first time in decades, voters were required to register as a Republican to participate in the GOP primary. Those registrations and voting histories are public records.
Here is how the four GOP candidates voted in May 2012, according to records in Elmore, Power, Canyon and Idaho counties:
- Sherri Ybarra of Mountain Home voted absentee. She filled out an unaffiliated ballot, meaning she could not have voted in contested Republican primaries.
- Randy Jensen of American Falls didn’t vote at all.
- John Eynon of Grangeville and Andy Grover of Melba voted in the Republican primary.
According to Elmore County records, Ybarra did not vote in the general election of November 2012, when Idaho voters overwhelmingly rejected Propositions 1, 2 and 3 — Luna’s comprehensive education laws. Ybarra has spent the last six years as an administrator for the Mountain Home School District.
When Idaho Education News asked Ybarra about her 2012 voting record, this was her email response: “I am a Republican, with Republican values, since my childhood. The state superintendent of public Instruction serves all students, all parents, and all stakeholders, regardless of when a box is ‘checked.’ Ronald Reagan explained it best: ‘Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.'”
Ybarra registered in Elmore County as a Republican on Feb. 5 — just six days before she filed the paperwork naming a campaign treasurer and seven days before she publicly announced her candidacy.
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Jensen has a long voting history, but he did not vote in the May 2012 primary. Jensen said he sat out the election because he doesn’t support the GOP’s decision to close its primary.
“I just think everyone should have an opportunity to vote in the primary election,” Jensen told Idaho Education News Wednesday.
Jensen registered as a Republican on Jan. 2, and joined the superintendent’s race later that month. While he describes himself as politically conservative, Jensen says he avoided aligning with a party for years. One reason is that his wife has served for 23 years on the American Falls City Council, a nonpartisan post. “We have just always remained nonpartisan in our political endeavors.”
Eynon voted as a Republican in the 2012 primary but he has third-party ties. In 2013, Eynon was secretary of the state’s Constitution Party. He left the Constitution Party shortly before filing paperwork on January 17, to run on the GOP ticket. Campaign manager Mary Adler has described Eynon as a 40-year Republican who briefly left the GOP because he was “dismayed” with the party’s direction on issues such as the health care exchange.
Grover voted in the GOP primary and general election in 2012.
“I believe in Republican values and Republican philosophy — and have for my whole life,” Grover said.
Luna is not running for re-election. Democrat Jana Jones is running unopposed in the primary. She ran on the Democratic ticket in 2006, narrowly losing to Luna.
Clark Corbin and Kevin Richert contributed to this report.