Idaho Republicans expected to win big in general election

Posted at 10:34 AM, Nov 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-08 12:34:56-05

Republicans are expected to dominate Tuesday's election, with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump predicted to easily win Idaho's four electoral votes and all three of the Republican congressional candidates likely to secure their bids for re-election.

That leaves the open seat on Idaho's Supreme Court as the state's most competitive race.

Twin Falls attorney Robyn Brody and Republican state Sen. Curt McKenzie are in a tight race over the little-known position.

Brody has ranked high among her fellow attorneys, which has resulted in large campaign donations from firms across the state.

McKenzie has won the endorsements of Idaho Chooses Life, an anti-abortion organization, and the National Rifle Association, which are favorable among Idaho's strong conservative voting base.

The two candidates are in a runoff election after failing to get a majority of the vote in a four-way race in the May primary. The last time there was a runoff election for an Idaho Supreme Court seat was in 1998.

There is only one statewide constitutional amendment on this year's November ballot and it's a familiar one.

Two years ago, Idaho voters said no to amend the state constitution to allow lawmakers veto power over administrative rules submitted by the executive branch. Convinced the amendment's failure was due to uninformed voters, legislative leaders have launched an expensive new campaign this year urging the public to vote yes.

Nothing will change if the amendment fails or passes. Nearly 25 years ago, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that Idaho's legislative veto power is legal. That ruling has never been challenged and Idaho lawmakers have been using legislative vetoes ever since.

However, Idaho lawmakers say they fear that that ruling could be challenged and so they want that permission expressly enshrined in the Idaho Constitution.

For the congressional races, all three incumbents face first-time Democratic challengers.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo faces Democratic candidate Jerry Sturgill, a Boise businessman. Crapo is seeking a fourth term.

U.S Rep. Raul Labrador is running for re-election against Democratic candidate James Piotrowski, a Boise attorney. While the 1st Congressional District tends to swing Republican, Piotrowski's campaign has out raised Labrador in the final weeks of the campaign. Labrador is seeking a fourth term.

Finally, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson faces Democratic opponent Jennifer Martinez, a community activist from Twin Falls. Simpson is seeking a 10th term in the state's 2nd Congressional District.

On the legislative level, all seats of the 105-member Idaho Legislature are on ballots.

But 37 of those incumbents are Republican incumbents without opponents because they survived the May primary election.

The toughest race is in northern Idaho as House Minority Leader John Rusche hopes to hold onto to his District 6 seat.

The six-term Democratic lawmaker is up against Republican challenger Mike Kingsley.

Kingsley lost to Rusche in 2014 by just 48 votes. Since then, the candidates have attracted thousands of dollars from party officials and special interest groups.

The Idaho Democratic Party filed a complaint earlier this month accusing the Idaho Republican Party of illegally coordinating advertisements against Rusche. The GOP has denied these claims, but the Secretary of State is still investigating.

The complaint is the second accusation the Idaho Democratic Party has raised against the GOP this election season.

In District 1, Democratic officials pulled a volunteer from the field after alleging that supporters of Republican Rep. Heather Scott harassed and stalked volunteer.

Scott has since denied the claims, but the Attorney General's office has confirmed it his reviewing allegations made by the volunteer.

Idaho voter turnout is highest for presidential elections.

The Secretary of State's office isn't giving out an exact estimate of voter turnout, but presidential election years traditionally attract 70 percent turnout or more among registered voters.