Community Blog: The EDge

The 2014 Idaho election: a blockbuster, or a bore?

Thirteen months out from the 2014 Idaho primaries, and a little more than 18 months away from the general election, what can we expect?

Perhaps a snoozer?

Randy Stapilus — a longtime Northwest political observer and former Idaho newspaper editor — advances that theory in a weekend column making the rounds.

By already formally announcing his bid for a second term, Sen. Jim Risch probably “cleared the field of serious opposition,” says Stapilus. And incumbent Gov. Butch Otter may well be doing the same by signaling his plans to seek a third term.

Writes Stapilus: “The closest thing to a wild card among major offices seems to be superintendent of public instruction, mainly because incumbent Tom Luna endured a big crashing ballot issue defeat last year on school overhaul, the centerpiece of his two terms in office.”

Tom Luna
State superintendent Tom Luna

Luna hasn’t tipped his hand. In an interview with Idaho Education News earlier this month, Luna said he will announce his plans by year’s end. Luna said he’d be more likely to seek a third term if Otter runs again — and Luna said he’d be less likely to run again and “roll the dice” on forging a working relationship with a new governor.

Stapilus raises a valid point. By removing all suspense about his plans, Risch probably starts a domino effect that will affect other races. In this corner, we probably won’t cover the U.S. Senate race too closely — but this race could affect the lineup in races we will cover closely (namely, the races for governor and state superintendent).

And here’s another question Stapilus poses: “What happens if outsider activists, whether tea party-affiliated or otherwise, decide to crash the soiree and run against longtime insiders?”

Stapilus raises the outsider question with regard to Risch or Otter. But could an outsider decide to challenge for state superintendent? Could the work of the governor’s education reform task force have any effect on that?

Something to keep in mind, as 2014 starts to take shape.

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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