Six races to watch Tuesday


EDITOR’S NOTE: The origional version of this story has been edited to include corrected information from Jeff Thompson.

The GOP primary is a showdown between establishment Republicans and hard-line conservatives. Republican voters throughout Eastern Idaho will have contested primary races to decide. Here are six races for voters to keep an eye on:

No. 1

Race: U.S. House, 2nd District

Candidates: Mike Simpson and Bryan D. Smith

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live within the 2nd Congressional District, which extends from the Wyoming border to Boise and the Utah border to Lemhi County.

Why it matters: This race captured national attention as a showdown between hard-line conservatives and the GOP’s traditional, business-oriented wing. The race featured a slew of nationally funded television attack ads, with groups such as the ultraconservative Club for Growth backing Smith. National business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are backing Simpson.

Simpson, a former dentist from Blackfoot, has made a name for himself attacking the Environmental Protection Agency and protecting Idaho National Laboratory from funding cuts. He is an advocate of compromise in government.

Smith, an Idaho Falls attorney, is running on a pledge of never raising taxes and cutting federal spending. He promises to oppose raising the federal debt ceiling without large spending cuts and to protect Second Amendment rights.

Simpson and his backers have attacked Smith’s debt collection businesses, Medical Recovery Services and Diversified Equity Systems, which have been involved in more than 10,000 court cases statewide.

Smith has attacked Simpson votes to help bail out the financial industry following the 2008 financial crisis and a continuing resolution that ended the government shutdown but derailed an attempt to defund the Affordable Care Act.

Simpson has held the seat since 1998, when he defeated Democrat Richard Stallings. Stallings held the seat from 1984 to 1992, but had sought to retake it in 1998.

That year Stallings captured about 45 percent of the vote. Since then, no Simpson opponent has captured more than 35 percent.

The winner of the race will go on to face Stallings.

No. 2

Race: Governor, Republican Primary

Candidates: C.L. “Butch” Otter, Russell M. Fulcher, Harley D. Brown and Walt Bayes

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live in the state of Idaho.

Why it matters: Two politically-experienced heavyweights dominate the field in the gubernatorial primary.

Otter, a former lieutenant governor who stepped into the state’s top executive seat in 2007, is promoting economic growth, increasing state control over management decisions on federal lands and keeping taxes low. He’s been endorsed by former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Fulcher, a state senator from Meridian and majority caucus chairman, is running to Otter’s right. Fulcher opposed establishing the Idaho Health Care Exchange, which Otter supported. Fulcher also claims Otter left the state dependent on federal money that comes with strings attached.

Bayes has been running for the seat every four years since 2002, but never gained 5 percent of the vote. Brown ran in 2010 and received 3 percent of the vote.

Otter has been out-raising Fulcher by nearly a 4-to-1 margin, bringing in $407,500 compared to Fulcher’s $106,419, according to the Associated Press.

The winner will face the Democratic primary victor. A.J. Balukoff, of Boise, and Terry Kerr, of Idaho Falls, both filed as candidates, but Kerr has not raised any money. Balukoff has raised $282,687.54.

No. 3

Idaho House, District 30 Seat A, Republican Primary

Candidates: Jeff Thompson and Steve Yates

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live in District 30, which includes areas of Bonneville County west of Idaho Falls but not the city’s downtown area, which is located in the District 33 “doughnut hole” district.

Why it matters: Thompson has served three terms. He has had several close races, beginning with his first election in 2008, when he defeated incumbent Democrat Jerry Shively by less than 300 votes. In his last election, Thompson garnered 85 percent of the vote.

Thompson, a business consultant, is backed by a number of state interest groups in areas such as agriculture and logging. He said he would prioritize job growth in the area.

Yates, a former deputy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, has garnered the support of several prominent Bonneville County Republicans, including Central Committee Chairman Doyle Beck, former Rep. Janice McGeachin and former Sen. Ann Rydalch.

Yates is a new face in the county, having lived here two years. Thompson emphasizes his close ties with the community and 14 years in the area.

Yates has attacked Thompson’s vote in favor of establishing the Idaho Health Insurance Exchange.

The winner will go on to face Constitution Party candidate David G. Hay, who captured nearly 17 percent of the vote in 2012.

No. 4

Race: Idaho House, District 34 Seat A, Republican Primary

Candidates: Douglas A. Hancey and Ronald M. Nate

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live in District 34, which encompasses Madison County, as well as north-central Bonneville County.

Why it matters: In yet another run to the right, political newcomer Nate is challenging Hancey, who first was elected in 2012.

Hancey was one of the “Gang of 14” Republican representatives who voted in favor of establishing a state health insurance exchange. He said the effort was intended to assert some state control over the mandates of the Affordable Care Act. He said he hasn’t made up his mind on whether to vote in favor of expanding Medicaid.

Nate has attacked Hancey’s vote on the state exchange. He said he would not vote in favor of Medicaid expansion under any circumstances. Nate said the state is too dependent on federal money, forcing it to conform state policies to federal standards to keep the money coming in.

Hancey has been out-raising Nate, reporting $16,850 in disclosures earlier this week, though only a fifth of that total came from within his district.

Nate has raised $9,497, but almost half came from within his district.

There is no other candidate in the race, so the winner will assume the seat in 2015.

No. 5

Race: Superintendent of Public Instruction, Republican Primary

Candidates: John R. Enyon, Andrew Grover, Randy Jensen and Sherri Ybarra

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live in the state of Idaho.

Why it matters: With Superintendent Tom Luna stepping down, a new face is guaranteed at the helm of the state’s education system in 2015.

Grover, superintendent of the Melba School District, has voiced support for the Idaho Core Standards, but also promises to be vigilant as they are put in place, making sure they are in line with Idaho values.

Enyon, a teacher, has built his campaign around opposition to the standards, which he claims are an example of the federal government exceeding its authority.

Jensen, a school principal, said he supports the standards themselves, but is skeptical of moving quickly toward reliance on testing to evaluate schools and teachers.

Ybarra, a former principal and teacher, also is skeptical of moving toward testing, but supports improved standards.

The winner will face Democrat Jana Jones, of Idaho Falls, who may represent the party’s best chance at winning a statewide office. Jones came within 3 percent of defeating Luna in 2006.

No. 6

Race: Secretary of State, Republican Primary

Candidates: Lawerence E. Denney, Evan S. Frasure, Phil McGrane and Mitch Toryanski

Who decides: Affiliated Republicans who live in the state of Idaho

Why it matters: Sitting Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is stepping down, so a newcomer will take the post next year.

Denney is a sitting state representative from Midvale who formerly served as speaker of Idaho House.

Frasure — who served as a state representative and then as a state senator for the Pocatello area for 12 years beginning in 1990 — challenged Ysursa in 2002, but gained only 34 percent of the vote in the primary.

McGrane, of Garden City, is the current chief deputy of the Ada County Clerk’s Office.

Toryanski is a former state senator from Boise. He won election in 2010 by a slim 103 votes but lost the seat in 2012 to Branden J. Durst.

The winner will face Boise Democrat Holli Woodings in November.