Economics professor Ron Nate won a Republican Primary victory over first-term incumbent Doug Hancey in Legislative District 34A.
As of midnight, Nate led Hancey 2,710 to 2,190 in the unofficial vote count with all 23 precincts reporting in Madison and Bonneville counties. No Democrats are seeking the seat, meaning Nate will take office in January.
“I attribute this campaign to a lot of ideas and hard work,” Nate said. “We were outspent by Hancey, but not out-
worked. We ran on issues and principles that were in line with District 34. His voting record was out of sync with voters. They made their choice and I’m happy to go and represent District 34.
Nate, who teaches at Brigham Young University-Idaho, called himself the “most conservative” of the two Republican candidates. One of his biggest talking
points was his opposition to the state health-care exchange.
Hancey was a member of the “Gang of 14,” a
group of freshman Republicans who voted in favor of enacting the state exchange. During the campaign, Hancey said there is virtue in being independent-minded and pragmatic, rather than sticking to the party line.
“The message by the voters in Madison County was well-received, although the low turnout hurt me,” Hancey said. “It’s not an excuse, but I was expecting a higher turnout. The tea party people have been very-well organized and ran a good campaign and got the majority of the vote.”
The win comes in the midst of what officials said was a lower-than-average turnout among voters in Madison County and a section of Bonneville County, which comprises Legislative District 34A.
“The turnout looks like it’s worse than normal,” Madison Clerk Kim Muir said. “We’ve been getting reports of pretty low turnout across the board and we don’t know what to attribute that to.”