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Luke Malek drops from Idaho lieutenant governor race, endorses Bedke

Malek said he was stepping aside and backing Bedke in an effort "to prevent extremism from gaining another foothold in Idaho politics."

BOISE, Idaho — Former state representative Luke Malek announced Sunday that he is dropping out of Idaho's lieutenant governor race. 

Malek, a Republican from Couer d' Alene who served in the Idaho Legislature from 2012 to 2018, endorsed current Speaker of the House Rep. Scott Bedke for lieutenant governor.

"I do not make this decision lightly," Malek wrote in a letter. "By many measures, my campaign has been successful, and I have received growing support each day. However, to prevent extremism from gaining another foothold in Idaho politics, and out of respect for my longtime friend and fellow conservative candidate, Scott Bedke, stepping aside is the best decision I can make for Idaho right now."

With Malek out of the race, Bedke will face Rep. Priscilla Giddings, a Republican from White Bird, in the primary. Giddings, a far-right lawmaker, was officially censured and stripped of a committee assignment earlier this month for releasing the identity and personal details of a teenage intern who reported being raped by another representative, then lying about it under oath to the Legislature's ethics committee.

Terri Pickens Manweiler, a Boise attorney, is currently the lone Democrat in the race.

Malek did not mention the other candidates by name in his letter, but urged Idaho voters to reject "extremist politics" in the upcoming election.

"More than ever, Idahoans must focus carefully on the character and qualifications of political candidates," he wrote. "Extremist politics have divided our state, wasted our hard-earned tax dollars on divisive lawsuits that stand no chance of success, rejected common sense education funding that is crucial to our present and future economy and discounted or demeaned the role and value of trained law enforcement, our first responders, and our healthcare workers."

Malek described Bedke, his former opponent, as a proven leader and an "experienced, thoughtful, committed and compassionate conservative with unquestionable moral integrity."

The former lawmaker thanked those who had supported him, and vowed to continue working to better the state. 

"I am so grateful for and humbled by the support of so many," he wrote. "While this is not my time, I hope you will all work with me to fight for our children's education and the future of our state by supporting Scott Bedke for this vitally important position." 

In a response Sunday evening, Bedke said he was "humbled" by his former opponent's decision. 

"Luke Malek, a well-regarded former legislator, lawyer, and friend, has put his faith in me to become your next Lieutenant Governor by selflessly dropping out of the race," Bedke wrote. "This act shows that he holds Idaho’s future and values at the highest regard. I am humbled by his willingness to step aside and put his trust in me. I deeply appreciate his continued effort to be a dedicated public servant. I promise to be the conservative leader our state needs to ensure Idaho continues to be a place where our families grow and thrive."

The primary is set for May 17, 2022 while the general election will be held Nov. 8, 2022.

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