Otter rode Simpson’s coattails to renomination


In last week’s GOP primary, Sen. Russ Fulcher defeated Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter in the 1st Congressional District.

From 2001 to 2007, Otter represented the 1st District as a three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Otter won renomination for governor May 20 on the strength of his showing in the 2nd District, drafting behind eight-term Congressman Mike Simpson’s big win.

Fulcher won the 1st District — western and northern Idaho — 37,443 to 34,462, a 2,981-vote margin. Fulcher had the endorsement of 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, a vocal critic of Otter who helped unseat Otter’s choice for party chairman in 2008 and the governor’s proposed fuel tax increases in 2009.

Fulcher won seven of the 18 counties in the 1st District.

Most significantly, he carried Idaho’s three most-populous counties — Ada, Canyon and Kootenai — along with Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho and Latah. Fulcher won the Ada County portion of the 1st District 10,123 to 7,697, a 2,426-vote margin.

Otter secured his renomination bid in the 2nd District that includes the eastern Treasure Valley, Magic Valley and eastern Idaho, besting Fulcher 45,324 to 30,259, a 15,065-vote margin. Otter won the overall race, 51 percent to 44 percent, or 79,786 to 67,702.

Fulcher lost the Ada County portion of the 2nd District by 979 votes and won only two of the other 25 counties in the 2nd District, Jefferson and Oneida.

Simpson led the way for his longtime friend Otter, who served as co-chairman of the Simpson campaign.

Despite unrelenting hoopla in the national media about how tea party challenger Bryan Smith had Simpson on the run, Simpson won a 62 percent to 38 percent landslide — besting Smith with 48,635 votes to the challenger’s 30,261 — a margin of 18,374 votes.

Simpson has a rematch in November with his 1998 opponent, former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings.

Otter faces Democrat A.J. Balukoff, president of the Boise School Board.