Community Blog: The EDge

Thayn now ‘considering’ a run for state superintendent

State Sen. Steven Thayn has had a change of heart — partially, at least — on a run for state superintendent of public instruction.

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Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett

For months, Thayn had ruled out a run. But that has changed with incumbent Tom Luna’s announcement that he will not seek a third term.

“I am considering it,” Thayn, R-Emmett, told Idaho Education News this morning.

Thayn says he has had between 15 and 30 people approach him about running for state superintendent. He expects to make a decision shortly — before Republicans and their top-of-the-ticket candidates go on their annual Lincoln Day banquet circuit. He’d also like to decide so potential state Senate candidates can consider a run.

“I think it’s important to announce sooner than later, so people can make those decisions,” Thayn said.

Thayn represents a sprawling legislative district that takes in Gem, Valley, Custer and Lemhi counties.

The candidate filing period, for statewide and legislative candidates, runs from March 3 to March 14.

In other news from the superintendent’s race, Melinda Smyser says she is staying put.

Widely viewed as a candidate in waiting, the former state senator says she is happy in her current job, heading Sen. Jim Risch’s field office.

“ … While I am flattered that (current Superintendent Tom Luna) and many others would feel I am qualified to take on the challenge of succeeding him in this office, I am going to … decline the opportunity,” Smyser said in a statement to the Idaho Press-Tribune.

Smyser has been a popular name in the election rumor mill for months, but the speculation surrounding the Parma Republican picked up this week. In announcing his plans to step aside after his current term ends, Luna dropped Smyser’s name, saying he’d had “conversations” about her running for the post. but ducked out before reporters could ask her about running.

Smyser, a former school counselor and Parma School Board member, served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2012.

Smyser’s decision, and Luna’s, leave two Republicans in the superintendent’s race: Grangeville teacher John Eynon and American Falls principal Randy Jensen. Democrat Jana Jones, a former deputy state superintendent and 2006 superintendent’s candidate, has announced her plans to run again.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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