1:43 a.m.: Election night live blog: Good night all ...

1:43 a.m.: Enough already. We'll be back later this morning to sort out this absurdly close Supreme Court race (Joel Horton is leading by 78 votes at this hour) and the legislative races ...

1:13 a.m.: At this writing, we haven't gotten a lick of new numbers from Ada County in 88 minutes.

The secretary of state's Web site reports it has results from 844 of 941 precincts. With 50 Ada County districts still hanging fire, my math tells me that at least half of the state's missing-in-action precincts are located in Idaho's population center.

Pretty embarrassing.

Check back for election night live blogging

I will be here this evening blogging about the day's election results.

So as you check IdahoStatesman.com for the up-to-the-minute numbers, check back throughout election night for analysis and commentary.

And don't forget to tune in at KIVI TV 6 for results and analysis, Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, College of Idaho professor/Statesman blogger Jasper LiCalzi and I will be on air through the evening.

Meantime, post your election day threads here.

The Senate debate: amateur hour

The four Republican Senate candidates who debated on Idaho Public Television Thursday night pitched themselves as an alternative to the career politician.

Then they went out and demonstrated their amateur status. For 60 minutes, they pretty much gave a pass to the front-runner and the one professional candidate in the GOP field — Lt. Gov. Jim Risch.

The first question out of the box was about Risch, a no-show at Thursday night's debate. All four candidates failed to seize the opening.

None of the candidates brought up the centerpiece of Risch's pedestrian campaign for the GOP nomination — the property-tax bill he engineered as governor two years ago. Risch's rivals are slamming the property tax relief and the sales tax increase that went with it (click here for our story). They somehow failed to bring it up during a statewide debate five days before the primary.

Julie Ellsworth: Personal attacks have no place in endorsement process

Legislative candidate (and former House Majority Caucus Chairman) Julie Ellsworth didn't care for some comments I made in my Sunday column. You'll have to read to the end to get there — as Ellsworth clearly did.

Here's a response from the Boise Republican, running for a House seat in legislative District 18:

Generally I have no problem with how the Statesman handles political endorsements. But I do have issue with personal attacks that go beyond the editorial endorsements – the kind that Opinion Editor Kevin Richert has leveled.

The Supreme Court race: Hearing from lawyer vs. lawyer

Go figure. Here we are, five days before the Supreme Court election between incumbent Joel Horton and challenger John Bradbury, and a couple of lawyers are arguing.

Boise attorney Sam Johnson — who, in the interest of disclosure, notes that he is Bradbury's nephew — has fired off a stinging piece defending his uncle and criticizing Horton.

Johnson is writing in response to Wednesday's guest opinion from Boise attorney and former Attorney General David Leroy. Writing on Horton's behalf, Leroy submitted a rebuttal to our endorsement of Bradbury.

Got it?

Here's a link to our original editorial.

Tune in and log on ... 'cross talk' alert (UPDATED, 4:17 p.m.)

A reminder: Four of the Republican candidates for U.S. Senate will debate this evening on Idaho Public Television.

The hour-long debate starts at 8 p.m., and will air live, unlike last week's taped debate sponsored by KTVB. You remember, that taped event that KTVB anchor Dee Sarton touted (inaccurately) as "the only time that the Republican Senate candidates will be meeting prior to the May 27th primary."

You'll hear from four of the candidates: Fred Adams of Idaho Falls; Richard Phenneger of Coeur d'Alene; Scott Syme of Wilder; and Neal Thompson of McCall. Lt. Gov. Jim Risch has declined the invite in favor of the KTVB event — protesting a Public Television format that allows "cross talk" between the candidates.

Wimping out? Most Idaho candidates flunk 'Political Courage Test'

Let's hope this isn't an omen for Tuesday's voter turnout.

A vast majority of Idaho candidates have blown off the "Political Courage Test," a survey by Project Vote Smart, a nonpartisan political research group based in Philipsburg, Mont.

From a Project Vote Smart press release: "Only 32 percent of the state’s candidates for U.S. House and Senate, and 23 percent of candidates for state legislative office were willing to answer questions on the issues that are of top concern to Idaho voters, such as school funding, budget and taxes, health care, security, and international issues."

Pretty unimpressive.

From the endorsement interviews: The District 14 family feud

The race between Mike Moyle and Nancy Merrill — two candidates from prominent West Ada County farming families — has the kind of backstory you'd expect from an episode of "Dallas."

Even without the family history, the election between the incumbent Moyle and the last-minute write-in candidate Merrill would be interesting, because it forces the Treasure Valley's power elite to choose up sides. It is interesting to see who has joined Merrill's family, and who hasn't.

Among Merrill's early supporters are several elected officials: Eagle Mayor Phil Bandy, Ada County Highway District Commissioner John Franden, Boise City Council member Vern Bisterfeldt, and Boise School Board member A.J. Balukoff. A considerable risk for all four. If Moyle is re-elected, any of these officials and their entities might be looking for help from the Legislature.

From the endorsement interviews: Picking neither of the above

Rep. Bill Sali wrapped up his meeting with the Statesman editorial board — and challenger Matt Salisbury — with a quip for his opponent.

"Don't worry," Sali told Salisbury, "they're going to endorse you."

Turns out we couldn't endorse either candidate in the 1st Congressional District race (click here for this morning's editorial).

Some readers will think we copped out. I see it a little bit differently.

We did not endorse Sali in the 2006 Republican primary or the general election, and frankly, our board didn't see much in the past 16 months to change our mind. In Salisbuury, we saw a newcomer who just doesn't seem ready for the challenges of filling one of Idaho's two seats in the House of Representatives.

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