Election Central

Idaho GOP bracketology: Mr. Speaker draws double-bye, Mrs. Bedke battles stone-breaker


Republican businessman Bruce Mitchell withdrew from the race against Sarah Bedke for precinct captain, not long after the original story below was posted Thursday.

“I just didn’t need all the grief,” Mitchell said. “I’m busy enough with everything else.”

Mitchell said he was not pressured to withdraw by either Sarah Bedke or her husband, House Speaker Scott Bedke. “I don’t need more attention than I’ve been getting already,” Mitchell said.

Speaker Bedke said he considers Mitchell a friend and confirmed his account. “There’s been zero communication,” Bedke said. “I was surprised that he filed. I was surprised that he withdrew. We will have a good laugh about it when we get home.”


Idaho’s Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke is assured re-election after last week’s deadline passed with no candidates filing to oppose him in the primary or general elections.

But his wife, Sarah Bedke, faces a challenge in the Oakley 1 Precinct, where she’s been Republican committeewoman since 2002.

“It bothers her, too,” Speaker Bedke joked about Bruce Mitchell’s challenge that will be decided in the May 20 Republican primary.

Asked about her campaign plan, Sarah Bedke said, “If you’d asked that about my husband, I could answer down to a ‘t.’ I’m not comfortable campaigning for myself.”

Sarah Bedke knows her precinct, however, quickly answering that 187 souls are registered as Republicans in Oakley 1.

Mitchell said he’s not running as a critic of Sarah Bedke or Speaker Bedke. “I don’t have an ax to grind with either of them. I love ‘em both. But something needs to change with government as a whole. The working man needs a voice.”

Mitchell operates Sawtooth Stone, which offers quartzite flagstone in five colors. Sawtooth mines on 1,700 acres of private, state and federal land.

Precinct committeepersons make up party county committees and the state central committee, setting policy on matters including whether to close the GOP primary to non-Republicans. Also called precinct captains, the grassroots workers help pitch Republican candidates in the general election, distributing literature, staffing phone trees and contributing to the overall GOP organization.

When vacancies occur in the Legislature between elections, district committees made up of precinct captains nominate three candidates to the governor for appointment to complete unexpired terms.


Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics