Idaho’s filing period is a week old and there are few surprises and a number of legislator retirements that could turn leadership, at least in the House of Representatives, on its head.
Though there have been few shocking filings or non-filings, with one week left for candidates to declare their intentions, there’s still plenty of time for anything to happen.
In the upper tier races, incumbent Congressmen Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador filed for re-election, but each will face challengers in coming months. Simpson will face off with John Baird, a veteran and small business owner, in the May 15 Republican primary. Libertarian Rob Oates has filed to challenge Labrador in November, though others are expected to join the race.
Former NFL wide receiver Jimmy Farris will file as a Democrat in the contest to unseat Labrador and perennial candidate Pro-Life, formerly Marvin Richardson, is collecting signatures to get on the November ballot as an Independent.
In state legislative races, the election theme will be turnover. At least 20 House members are leaving their spots, with some headed to retirement, some to public offices outside the Capitol and at least nine will vie for seats in the Idaho Senate.
Likewise, the Senate will see many new faces next year. Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, a 30-year Statehouse veteran, announced his retirement this week. Had he not done so, Darrington would have faced off with Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, in the primary election.
Senate departures will hit both parties next year. Democratic Sens. Diane Bilyeu and Edgar Malapeai, both of Pocatello, will not return to the Capitol in 2013. Nor will Republican Sen. Jim Hammond of Coeur d’Alene or Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise.
The departures of Hammond and Darrington are particularly notable because each chair a committee in the Senate, meaning a leadership shakeup is coming.
But leadership shakeups will be most fervently felt on the other side of the rotunda. As the filings stand, no less than five House committee chairs are leaving. The House education, health and welfare, commerce and human resources, resources and conservation and revenue and taxation committees will all need new chairs next legislative session.
Particularly notable among those chairs leaving their posts are Reps. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, and Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, who are headed into retirement. Education chair Bob Nonini, R-Post Falls, is vying for Senate seat vacated by Hammond.
It’s been rumored that McGeachin will attempt to oust Congressman Simpson in the 2nd Congressional District primary election, but she has denied that thus far.
Candidate filings promise some intriguing and close races in the fall. In Boise’s District 18, the definition of a swing district, two races will likely feature rematches from 2010. Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, will likely go head-to-head again with former Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise, who lost to the now-incumbent by about 100 votes in the last election.
In what could be an even tighter District 18 match, it appears Democrat Janie Ward-Engelking will again challenge Rep. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise, for a House seat. The two ran against each other in 2010 and Ellsworth bested her opponent by a mere five votes.
None of the District 18 Republicans or Democrats have primary election challengers, though that could change by the time filing closes on Friday.
One surprising race could be in north-central Idaho, where former GOP gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell is set to challenge first-term Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. Rammell, who’s had several run-ins with the law since his 2010 run against Gov. Butch Otter, moved from eastern Idaho to Kooskia last year. The area is friendly to him; McMillan’s District 7 contains one of the two counties Rammell won in the 2010 GOP primary election.
Finally, Boise’s District 16 features an oddity in Idaho elections: a possible tight Democratic primary. House Minority Leader Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, is retiring and two Democrats have lined up to replace her: Hy Kloc and Jeff Stephenson. Kloc, a member of the Boise auditorium board, has Higgins’ blessing in the contest.
Note: Paleomedia has prepared an interactive map showing candidate filings across the state. Find that here. Also, view the secretary of state’s filing list here. Follow IdahoReporter’s Twitter feed for breaking filing announcements here.