Turnover is the name of the game in coming elections.
Filing period for legislative offices closed Friday and though there are more than 300 contestants vying for 105 seats, there is one constant: There will be a lot of new faces in the Idaho Capitol come 2013.
Before elections even take place, the House and Senate will lose members due to redistricting, retirement and the desire of lawmakers to seek other offices. The Senate is set to lose 11 incumbents, with 10 retiring and two going head-to-head in a Republican primary. Sens. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, and Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, are set for that clash after redistricting lumped them together.
The House will lose no less than 25 incumbents. Among those, 15 are retiring and 10 will seek seats in the Idaho Senate.
Experience and leadership will be lost in both Statehouse chambers. On Saturday, the Idaho Statesman’s Kevin Richert wrote that the Senate would lose a collective 118 years of experience due to departures. The House, Richert wrote, will lose 172 years in the 10 retiring legislators.
But the House will experience greater turnover in leadership posts. At least six sitting committee chairs will not return in 2013, including House Revenue and Taxation Committee chair Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, House Business Committee chair Max Black, R-Boise, and House Health and Welfare chair Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls.
The Senate will lose two committee head men. Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, decided not to challenge Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, after redistricting put them in the same district. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, is ending his career to seek the president position at North Idaho College.
Turnover decimates Democratic leadership, budget ranks
While Republicans are losing many experienced legislators, Democrats, who hold 20 seats in the 105-member Legislature, are slated to lose at least six of their top members. The results will be nearly all-new new leadership for Democrats in both chambers and new Democratic voices in the budget committee.
Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malapeai, D-Pocatello, is calling it quits one term after taking his party’s top post. In the House, Assistant Minority Leader Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, and Minority Caucus Chair Brian Cronin, D-Boise, are leaving their posts, leaving only Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, in Democratic House leadership.
Democrats are also losing some of their most experienced voice in budgetary matters. The minority party only holds four spots on the joint budget committee and Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, and Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, are all leaving this year. Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, will be the lone experienced Democrat on the panel next January, provided she can fend off a Republican challenger in November.
Congratulations are in order
Sometimes, lawmakers get lucky and get to skip the electoral process because no one files to run against them.
That is the case with 11 incumbents, including House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, House Assistant Minority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, Senate Majority Caucus Chair Russ Fulcher, R-Boise, Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, and Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum.
One lucky newcomer became a default winner on Friday, too. Republican Lance Clow of Twin Falls filed for a House seat and no one registered to run against him.
Let’s try this again
Several candidates on the filing list are either trying for public office again after unsuccessful bids in prior years or are attempting to re-enter the Legislature after a hiatus.
Brian Schad, a Marine veteran who challenged Republican Congressman Mike Simpson for his U.S. House seat in the 2010 general election, will try for public office again, but this time he will challenge Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis of Idaho Falls. During his 2010 run against Simpson, Schad ran as an Independent, but will vie in the GOP primary against Davis.
Chick Heileson, who challenged Simpson in the 2010 primary, has again filed to take on the incumbent congressman. Heilson presents a formidable foe for Simpson, who’s been in the U.S. House for 14 years; In the primary contest between the two Heilson drew 24 percent of the GOP vote.
Kent Marmon is running for former Caldwell Republican Sen. John McGee’s seat in Idaho’s District 10. Marmon ran on the Libertarian ticker for U.S. Senate in 2010, but he garnered only 1.5 percent of the vote in the losing effort. Last year, he sought a spot on the Caldwell City Council, but came in third place.
After McGee resigned a few weeks ago, Marmon put in name in the running to the Canyon County GOP to be selected as one of three names the group would select to be a replacement. He was skipped over and the GOP listed Jim Rice as its top choice. Rice and Marmon will square off in the Republican primary.
Former Idaho House member Maurice Clements, representative of Libertarian politics during his time in office, is running for Senate in District 11 opposite incumbent Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston.
Former Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, will get a rematch with the man who ousted him in 2010, Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens.
Rex Rammell will challenge Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, in District 7. Rammell took 24 percent of the vote in the 2010 GOP primary against Gov. Butch Otter and 5.4 percent as an Independent in a bid against Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch.
Competitive, to say the least
Everyone expects elections to be competitive, but some primary races this year will feature some extra vigor. A total of 11 Republican primary elections will feature four contenders. In District 35, one House seat will see a five-way contest. They are all topped, however, by the race for one House seat in District 34, which will see six Republicans strive for the post, including former legislator Stan Hawkins.