As expected, campaigns to recall Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Boise GOP Sen. Mitch Toryanski and Boise GOP Rep. Julie Ellsworth fell well short of forcing elections Aug. 30.
Organizers will hold a news conference at the Capitol at 4 p.m. Monday and display the signed petitions, said Morgan Hill, who managed the Recall Tom Luna campaign. Petitions are due Monday. Hill said the recall campaign informed Secretary of State Ben Ysursa's office last week they would miss the mark.
Hill said petitioners began strong, but volunteer support waned. The group spent less than $20,000, most of it in-kind advertising, Hill said.
"For all three, we had a really good start, but when it came time to expend our efforts to put out the volume of work we needed to do, we didn't have enough volunteers or the finances. That's what led to the slow pacing in signature collection."
Said Luna in a written statement: "Students Come First has always been about reforming education so we can educate more students at a higher level with limited resources. Opponents of the laws have tried to make it personal. Reforming education has never been about me; it’s about giving our students more opportunities. Our focus and priority has been and will continue to be implementation of the laws."
Luna will appear on KBOI-670 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, filling in for host Nate Shelman.
Hill said organizers aren't done, however. They hope to form a non-partisan watchdog group built on the spadework done by volunteers.
Hill said the group had thought it had collected about 75,000 of the 158,000 voter signatures necessary to force a recall election on Luna. But after a recount Sunday, Hill put the number at about 50,000.
Organizers collected about 1,000 signatures against Toryanski and Ellsworth, Hill said, but needed 4,725. All three officials were targeted for support of Luna's education reforms.
Idaho's recall threshold is high, requiring signatures amounting to 20 percent of the registered voters in the November 2010 election.
The referendum process is easier, with the requirement at 6 percent, or 47,432. Organizers led by the Idaho Education Association and a new group, Idaho Parents and Teachers Together, successfully qualified three referendums for the November 2012 ballot to overturn the three Luna laws. With $75,000 contributed by the National Education Association, the referendum campaign employed paid signature gatherers.
Toryanski and Ellsworth did not reply to requests for comment by midday Monday.
The Idaho GOP organized to raise "emergency" gifts to fight the recalls should any of the three make the ballot. Idaho GOP Executive Director Jonathan Parker said the party will issue a statement at 5 p.m., after the official deadline for filing petitions passes.
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