BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little defeated seven challengers — including current Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin — in the state’s Republican primary on Tuesday but still will face multiple rivals in the November election.
The Associated Press projected Little as the winner within a couple hours of poll closing Tuesday night, when early results showed him with 62% of the vote to McGeachin's 25%.
The complete unofficial results show Little received 53% of the vote; McGeachin had 32%; Ed Humphreys had 11%; Steve Bradshaw had 2%; and four other candidates each had 1% or less.
On the Democratic side, teacher Stephen Heidt of Marsing has received 80% of the vote. However, write-in votes for Shelby Rognstad, the current mayor of Sandpoint, and another write-in, David Reilly of Post Falls, still hadn’t been fully tallied. The Democratic nominee will face Little in November, along with activist Ammon Bundy, who is running as an independent; and the nominees of the Constitution and Libertarian parties. Both those were contested primaries: the Libertarians between John Dionne Jr. and Paul Sand; and the Constitution Party between Chantyrose Davison, who was on the ballot, and write-in Dr. Ryan Cole. Sand and Davison won their respective party primaries.
The biggest fireworks, by far, came in the Republican primary, which saw a sitting governor challenged by his lieutenant governor of the same party for the first time since 1938.
"The fundamentals of the Republican Party — I was raised in the Republican Party — about the lightest hand of government, about less regulation, about more opportunities, my record reflects all of those," Little said in a recent interview. “I’m excited about what we completed the last four years.”
Addressing supporters shortly after his race was called Tuesday night, Little said, “I felt the honor of serving the great state of Idaho in good times and in tough times, and once again I’m humbled by the awesome opportunity to serve and work for the great people of Idaho.”
"No other state has performed like Idaho," he said. "We've led the nation in job recovery and income growth."
McGeachin promised to "restore the principles that have made Idaho great — individual liberty, state sovereignty, and traditional conservative values." She emphasized the word "restore," telling reporters as she awaited the results on Tuesday night, "It's all about returning the government back to the people in Idaho."
McGeachin, who has clashed repeatedly with Little over his response to the coronavirus pandemic and twice unsuccessfully tried to overturn his policies when he briefly left the state, ran a flashy but chaotic campaign that emphasized her endorsement by former President Donald Trump.
Little largely focused on his record of economic success, including school funding increases and tax cuts.
Little, 68, an Emmett native, is a third-generation rancher from a prominent Idaho ranching family who holds a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness from the University of Idaho. He served four terms in the state Senate, rising to majority caucus chairman, and was appointed lieutenant governor in 2009, then twice re-elected before winning the governorship in 2018.
McGeachin, 59, served in the Idaho Legislature for 10 years, including chairing the House Health and Welfare Committee and serving on the budget-writing Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, before running for lieutenant governor in 2018, where she’s now served four years. She and her husband own an Irish pub in Idaho Falls and several automotive businesses.
On Wednesday, McGeachin issued a statement on Little's projected victory in the state’s Republican primary on Facebook:
"I'd first like to thank all of our supporters and volunteers for their efforts over the last year. I'd also like to thank my family for their love and support — it is not easy being the family of a politician, so I appreciate their sacrifice in this fight for freedom.
"Over the last few years, Idahoans have faced a lot. I heard your stories, and I will never forget them or stop fighting for you. Last night, Idahoans showed Brad that he does not have a mandate. Brad Little barely managed a majority even with tens of thousands of democrats and liberals infiltrating the Republican Primary to support him.
"Conservatives must get smarter and understand that we beat ourselves when we don't unite behind each other, we must never do that again. The establishment counts on that, and we fell for it. America First is more than any one candidate, one race, or one election cycle. It's about restoring America's greatness and getting back to the conservative principles on which our country was founded.
"The good news is it's not too late for Idaho. We still have time to fight. The change Idahoans are looking for will continue to grow and we will continue to take the fight to the establishment. Be proud of the work that was done, as that work has only started."
After primary results started filtering in last night, Ed Humphreys posted his response to Little's projected win on his Facebook page:
"Can’t say I’m pleased with tonight’s results. Nonetheless, Governor Brad Little appears to have a mandate from the people of Idaho. I must respect that and honor the will of the voters. Everyone knows that my team and I worked tirelessly to implement a better direction for our state. But we were whipped by the incumbent. I’ll be praying for Idaho. Thank you everyone for the support and encouragement. So many people across this state profoundly affected me and my family. I hope to have made a minor positive impact on Idaho."
For full election results, click here.
Who is Brad Little?
Little, from Emmett, was elected as Idaho's 33rd governor in November 2018 and was sworn in on January 7, 2019. Before that, he had served as lieutenant governor since 2009, after serving four terms in the Idaho Senate.
Little was raised on his family's sheep and cattle operation and has continued in ranching through his professional life. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness. He married Teresa Soulen of Weiser in 1978. The couple has two adult sons and six grandchildren.
View Little's campaign website here.
Who is Janice McGeachin?
Janice McGeachin, from Idaho Falls, was elected as Idaho's first woman lieutenant governor in 2018. She was elected to the Idaho House in 2002 and served four terms.
McGeachin was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She graduated in 1981 from Skyline High School in Idaho Falls. In 1985, she graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Finance and Accounting. She and her husband, Jim, have two adult children. The McGeachins have run automotive-related businesses as well as an Irish pub.
View the McGeachin campaign website here.
Who is Ed Humphreys?
Ed Humphreys, a financial planner who lives in Eagle, said he walked away from his practice to run for governor. Humphreys and his wife, Holly, have a son and a daughter.
Humphreys was born in Arizona, and has lived in Idaho since 2013. He has been active in the Idaho Republican Party as a precinct committeeman and regional chairman, but the 2022 election is his first run for public office. He describes himself as a patriot and constitutional conservative.
View the Humphreys campaign website here.
Below are the names and links for the other five Republican gubernatorial candidates. For those who do not have their own campaign website, we've linked to their statements for the 2022 IDGOP Voter Guide published by the Idaho Republican Party, which makes no official endorsements in contested GOP races:
The winner of the Republican primary will face the nominees of the Democratic, Libertarian and Constitution parties as well as independent Ammon Bundy in the general election, set for November 8.
Check in with KTVB for election coverage all day with live, local reports from the field and the studio, and be sure to join us for post-election coverage starting at 9 p.m., with a digital-only show here on KTVB.COM, the KTVB mobile app, and the KTVB YouTube channel, followed by an hour-long extended edition of the News at Ten on KTVB channel 7.1.
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