Eight Republicans and three Democrats are running in largely conservative Idaho’s primary for governor on May 17, with illegal immigration, the faltering economy, and inflation among the issues dominating the race.
Incumbent Gov. Brad Little (R) is seeking a second term in a hotly contested race against current Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R).
Also running are Republicans Steven Bradshaw, Edward Humphreys, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie, and Cody Usabel.
The Democrats are Stephen Heidt and write-in candidates David Reilly and Shelby Rognstad.
Little was elected Idaho’s 33rd governor in 2018 and served as lieutenant governor in 2009.
He is running on his conservative record as a “native Idahoan, third-generation rancher and small business owner; I’m proud to serve as the governor of the state I love,” according to his website.
“I’m working to defend our shared values and make Idaho as strong as possible. We’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s more we can do. Together, we will continue to help Idaho lead the nation in job growth and economic opportunity.”
The Fraternal Order of Police and the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund endorsed Little.
President Donald Trump endorsed his rival McGeachin, calling her a “true supporter” of MAGA.”
“I am running for governor to restore the principles that have made Idaho great—individual liberty, state sovereignty, and traditional conservative values,” McGeachin said on her campaign website.
“I stand for America First policies, including individual liberty, election integrity, a strong and secure border, school choice, energy independence, reducing taxes and regulations, and supporting American businesses. President Trump popularized this agenda, but these are all issues that true conservatives have long championed.”
McGeachin served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2002 to 2012 before she became lieutenant governor in 2018.
As the Idaho Republican party’s primary front-runners, Little and McGeachin have not seen eye to eye regarding the COVID-19 crisis.
Critical of Little’s stay-home order in 2020, McGeachin later issued two executive orders banning mask mandates and vaccine passports, which Little reversed. However, Little came out against President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 policies, resulting in three lawsuits challenging federal vaccine mandates.
Little said he is also running on his strong stance to favor a secure U.S.-Mexico border. In December, he traveled to Texas with nine other Republican governors to survey the immigration crisis at the nation’s southern border.
In terms of fundraising, Little leads his Republican challengers by a wide margin, having raised nearly $1.8 million as of March 31. McGeachin raised $629,116, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.
Both candidates did not respond to questions submitted in writing by The Epoch Times.
Humphreys, meanwhile, said he’s had “immense success” running a “relentless grassroots campaign.”
“People are getting involved who have never been involved in a political campaign before. Folks everywhere know in their hearts that something is wrong right now, and they are stepping up to do the work,” Humphreys told The Epoch Times.
“We have hundreds of volunteers throughout Idaho who are knocking on doors, making phone calls, and hosting events. We have raised over $415,000 so far. Not bad for a grassroots candidate who has never held elected office before.”
Humphreys said the one key issue animating the race for Governor is the existing divide in the Republican Party.
“The GOP needs to determine which direction we want to go in. I believe it is time to close the chapter on the crony corporatist era of the party, where we expect elected officials to cut tax deals with multinational billion-dollar corporations.
“These giant corporations have built a political machine to perpetuate the political careers of professional politicians. My tax plan benefits Idaho-based businesses and the working class,” he said.
Idaho currently has nearly 1 million registered voters, with Republicans (546,226) outnumbering Democrats (129,728) about 5–1.
About a third of Idaho’s voters, 303,396, are unaffiliated.
In 2020, 95 percent of Idahoans lived in one of the state’s 41 stronghold Republican counties. Two counties—Blaire and Latah—are solidly Democratic.
Big State, Smaller Government
Jackson, a Republican, is running in part to become Idaho’s first pro-cannabis Governor. She is a supporter of gun ownership rights, lower taxes, ending the border crisis, and affordable housing.
“I am a small-government conservative through and through. I share the fundamental beliefs in America’s founding documents and self-government and that individuals thrive most when unburdened by taxes and regulations,” Jackson said on her campaign website.
“As governor, my knee-jerk reaction to nearly any situation or challenge will be to reject federal control and mandates, including vaccines and masks. States and individual rights are under attack by the current administration, and I will fight tooth and nail for Idaho and its residents.”
Usabel, a fourth-generation Idahoan, seeks to address the state’s tax burden, education, and corruption.
“We can’t keep giving our hard-earned money in the form of taxes to a corrupt government,” Usabel said on the Idaho Republican Party website.
“Education has gone off the rails. Critical Race Theory, common core math, gender studies, sexualization of children, and Marxist ideals are all horrible and shouldn’t be allowed in Idaho schools.”
“There are too many politicians masquerading as Republicans,” he added.
Marie, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, could not be reached for comment and does not have a campaign website.
Paul Sand is running as a Libertarian candidate for governor in a campaign that he described as “unlike anything ever attempted in politics.”
“I am running a stealth campaign with no visible metrics. There is no way to win a conventional campaign against the establishment anywhere, let alone Idaho,” he told The Epoch Times.
Less Spending Equals More Opportunity
In the race for the U.S. Senate, Mike Crapo (R) seeks another term against Republican challengers Brenda Bourn, Natalie Fleming, Scott Trotter, and Ramont Turnbull.
Democratic candidates are Ben Pursley and David Roth. Ray Writz is the Idaho Constitution Party candidate, and Scott Cleveland is campaigning as an Independent.
In a campaign statement, Crapo, endorsed by Trump, said that Washington “spends too much, taxes too much, and wastes too much. Our mounting debt is a threat to our nation’s future and must be addressed.
“I have co-sponsored the Balanced Budget Amendment every year in Congress and have consistently fought to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful government spending.
“A robust private sector—not more government spending—creates real economic opportunity for the families and small businesses in Idaho and our nation.”
Trotter told The Epoch Times he has been actively campaigning since October, hoping to unseat Crapo.
“I have been to all 44 counties and 29 of 31 republican counties Lincoln Days events this year,” Trotter said. “I have been to many Republican central committee meetings in many counties, and many groups set up [a] meet-and-greet for my campaign.”
“It’s been awesome.”
Turnbull said he is running on a platform of God, family, country, and strong leadership with integrity.
“I love America. I love what it stands for—the freedoms, the opportunities. We the people, now more than ever, must demand our elected officials work within the limits set forth in the Constitution.”
Crisis at the Southern Border
Trotter said the main issues for the state are voter integrity, reducing the $30 trillion national debt, and securing the southern border.
Kootenai County, Ada County, and Bonneville County, all Republican strongholds, will likely “have the most influence,” he said.
“I feel called for such a time as this. I am here to help. I have been declaring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and God is our standard, and we need to trust Him for our decisions.
“I want to help restore American pride and encourage our nation and [Idaho] to continue to keep our eyes on God and stand for our Constitution.”
In a race for Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican candidates include the incumbent Mike Simpson, Daniel Levy, Flint Christensen, Chris Porter, Bryan Smith, and Democrat Wendy Norman.
Simpson said he would continue standing up for Idaho’s conservative values in Congress while fighting to stop far-left’s socialist agenda.
“I have an ‘A’ rating with the NRA and a 100 percent rating with National Right to Life. I voted for President Trump’s agenda in Congress and stood up to the radical liberals both times [when] they tried to impeach him,” Simpson said.
Norman said she would address economic inequality if elected.
“We are rapidly becoming a nation of haves and have-nots, and income inequality is on the rise,” Norman said in a campaign statement.
“I will fight for a level playing field for all Idahoans, an end to inflation, and policies to promote economic equity, including fiscal responsibility, reducing the debt, and bringing high-paying jobs back to Idaho and America.”
In a campaign statement, Flint said that he couldn’t know that he would be the best politician, but he was sure that the people of Idaho “have had enough of politicians.”
“I know I will have plenty to learn about the pomp and circumstance during my service in the House, but I will not have to learn how to vote with integrity, for freedom, for Idaho.”
Smith said he’s running for Congress to ensure election integrity, establish term limits, implement an effective energy policy, and address the Biden administration’s “insane border policies” that have created a crisis.
“I will fight to restart building the Trump border wall. We must return to the policy where people had to go home to request entry into our country legally and not be let in by the tens of thousands illegally,” Smith said in a campaign statement.
Levy told The Epoch Times that the primary race should be that Idaho is one of the most conservative states in the country, “but sadly, it is not represented that way.
“I am running against an incumbent who has sat in the office for 24 years, and [he’s] been one of the 15 most left-wing Republicans in office, and also voted for all of the bad [neoconservative] ideas of the last three decades,” Levy said.
“The incumbent supported giving away Americans’ right to privacy—the incumbent voted for the Bush regime-change wars—and now the incumbent supports the proxy war scam in Ukraine.”
In a race for Idaho’s District 1 U.S. House Representaive, incumbent Russ Fulcher (R), Kaylee Peterson (D), and Joe Evans (L) are running unopposed.