Yesterday’s blog covered three hot races in Canyon County for the state legislature, so today I am turning to four races in Ada County. Again, they are all Republican races as the Democrats have no primary races.
House District 14A: Mike Moyle vs. Nancy Merrill
This district includes Western Ada County including parts of Meridian, northwest Boise, Eagle and Star. The district was very conservative in the past but, with explosive growth, residents are looking for a more active role for government. Moyle, as majority leader in the state house, is one of the most powerful people in the state government. He is also not well liked by many but those two attributes often go together. Moyle may not have changed as much as the district. As the district becomes more urban, Moyle still votes like a rural farmer from Canyon County. Merrill, the former Eagle mayor, was encouraged to run by BoDo developers and others who don’t like Moyle’s rural views, especially his coolness toward transportation spending. Merrill’s problem is she did not apply in time so if you want to vote for her, you will have to write her name in (Is that two “r’s” and two “l’s”?). Moyle may be unpopular with some but I can’t see a write-in campaign working, especially in the primary with so little time spent on the campaign so far. Though this is an interesting race, unless Moyle’s supporters don’t know Moyle is contested and leave the position blank and a lot of people swarm to Merrill and spell her name correctly, there will be no change here.
Senate District 14: Stan Bastian vs. Henry Kulczyk vs. Saundra McDaniel vs. Chuck Winder
These are four pretty well known, if not completely impressive, candidates. Bastian served a term as representative in 14B before beating Rod Beck for this senate seat after the retirement of Hal Bunderson. Some people don’t like Bastian but he has been a solid vote getter in this district and seems to fit this changing district. Kulczyk is also a former house member from this district and is a well-known voice for conservative causes in the Valley. There is certainly a niche in this district for Kulczyk but I don’t think it is enough people to win. McDaniel almost won the Eagle mayoral race and is known for fighting government. Again, there is a segment of this district who can relate to her. Winder (The College of Idaho – though I don’t know which year) has experience inside and outside of government, is running as the non-ideological problem solver and has raised the most money. All four of these candidates fit a niche within the district. Which niche is biggest will determine the winner. Bastian was endorsed by the Statesman. This is probably going to be a close race between Bastian’s incumbency and Winder’s money. I’ll go with the Coyote and pick Winder in this race.
House District 18A: Julie Ellsworth vs, Gail Hartnett
This district is southeast Boise and Ada County. This district elected three Democrats in 2006 but Brandon Durst, the incumbent for this seat, is the weakest of the three. Ellsworth was the representative for 18B and GOP caucus chair before she was beaten by Phylis King in 2006. She has the name recognition but I don’t believe Ellsworth is any more popular now than she was two years ago. Hartnett is a realtor and they are becoming one of the most influential groups in the state. Hartnett is also bright, knowledgeable on the issues and has raised the most money. She was endorsed by the Statesman and I think Hartnett wins easily despite the name recognition of Ellsworth.
Senate District 20: Shirley McKague vs. Mark Snodgrass
This district is mainly Meridian and like 10A matches a candidate chosen by the governor to fill an empty seat with one of the candidates the governor didn’t choose. McKague has been a house member in this district for a while and has always polled well. She is in the anti-tax, anti-big-government wing of the party that still seems popular in Meridian. Snodgrass is less ideological but also not very well liked either. These are two flawed candidates but which is more flawed? The Statesman endorsed Snodgrass but I believe McKague’s followers are more fervent, which should spell the difference in a primary election. This may be the toughest call on the board.
Tomorrow, we move to county races in Canyon and Ada Counties.
Dr. Jasper M. LiCalzi
Department of Political Economy
The College of Idaho