Smylie’s indictment of Luna a signal of 2014 candidacy? Maybe.

Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News has a fascinating post this morning about the prospect of former GOP Rep. Steve Smylie of Boise making another run at Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna next year.

Luna, who beat Smylie by fewer than 900 votes in the 2006 GOP primary, has seen his brand significantly damaged by the overwhelming defeat of his “Students Come First” reforms in November.

Luna hasn’t announced a bid for a third term. But he’s said that if his friend and “Students Come First” partner, Gov. Butch Otter, seeks a third term that will make him more likely to run again. Otter has said he plans to run and has been raising money, but hasn’t formally announced.

Smylie told Richert he’s “resisting” calls to run again and sounds lukewarm about the fundraising duties a campaign would bring. But Smylie’s testimony at a reform hearing last week and a subsequent posting on the Education News site suggests the former teacher could be talked into a race if he were assured he’d get the help needs.

Wrote Smylie: “The system today that is creating such chaos is the result of a state superintendent who has no teaching experience, no educational credentials, a ‘degree’ purchased on the Internet, and sincere but misguided ideas to improve schools.”

Smylie is longtime public school teacher who now works at Boise State. He also is the son of former three-term Gov. Bob Smylie, who served from 1955-67.

Luna, despite his bruises, can’t be taken lightly. He’s a gifted campaigner, has many loyal followers and, as an incumbent, should be able to raise money. Anyone who takes him on had better be all in.


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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