Idaho's House Elections Stir the Pot
Idaho’s House of Representatives will look very different next legislative session. Some former members like Priscilla Giddings, Dorothy Moon, and Tammy Nichols, associated with liberty group within the House, ran for higher office. They are gone. Other members like Chad Christiansen, Karey Hanks and Ron Nate were defeated in the Mormon conservative purge of 2022. Still others like Greg Ferch were placed in districts against other incumbents and lost. Of the ten most highly rated on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Freedom Index, only Heather Scott, Vito Barbieri, and Tony Wisniewski remain in the House.
While many of the lowest ranked House Republicans on the Freedom Index remain, several are gone after Tuesday's primaries. Scott Syme and Paul Amador lost, Gregory Chaney left to run for the Senate and lost, and Scott Bedke failed forward into the Lt. Governor’s position.
Senate elections had proportionately more incumbents go down than the House elections. More conservative incumbents (for example, Nate and Hanks) lost against challengers than liberal or establishment incumbents (Amador) lost to challengers.
Perhaps the purging of some old guard insurgents and establishment politicians has its upsides. Idaho politics is in for a needed change. The liberty vs. more government framework has played out the string. Liberty is not exactly the answer to what ails us. The language of liberty is often used today to mask oligarchic freedom at the expense of the public good. Bad government promoting degeneracy is the cause of much mischief. But this is a story for another day.
This year's races for Idaho’s House were exceptionally competitive. For perspective, 39 of the seventy Republicans running for the Idaho House of Representatives ran unopposed in the
Republican primary in 2018, while 37 of the seventy ran unopposed in 2020. Only 7 House races were within ten percentage points in 2018 and eight in 2020. Things were very different in 2022. 18 House races were decided by less than 10%, more than twice the normal number. Only twenty-five House races were uncontested.
There will be a remarkable turnover in the House Republican caucus. If all Republicans from Republican districts who won on Tuesday also win in November, there will be 32 new members with only 29 returning members.
Who are these Republicans? Successful Republican candidates who won recommendations from the Stop Idaho RINOs, ConservativesOf Pac, or Heather Scott are colored in red on the chart below. 25 of the 61 Republicans who won in Republican districts on the list were endorsed by some combination of these groups. Other Republicans, such as Sage Dixon and Joe Palmer, were left off in fits of pique by conservative activists. In other cases, these groups may indeed have endorsed the wrong candidate (for example, James Petzke should have been the endorsed candidate, in our humble opinion, in 21A). The size of this new group backed and sympathetic to the Stop RINOs coalition is impossible to calculate at this point, but it is not insubstantial.
Many of the new Republican candidates are genuinely unknowns. Many have never held elective office. Perhaps some of those not endorsed will end up surprising conservatives; perhaps many endorsed by conservatives will prove to be disappointments. Control of the House of Representatives between the establishment and insurgents is up in the air.
The chart below shows a lot more red names on the top of the chart than on the bottom. This shows how the conservative wing of the Republican Party is based in northern and western parts of Idaho. In Ada County and the eastern part of the state candidates endorsed by the conservative groups did not fare nearly as well.
Many new members will join next term. Experience shows that a flood of new members increases the power of lobbyists and the permanent bureaucracy because they are among the only available resources of information and analysis on public policy for the new members. Without a concerted effort to help these candidates succeed, all of the endorsements in the world will not help “stop Idaho RINOs” who control much of this lobbying and bureaucratic power.
Also see the election analysis at: