Election Central

Idaho lawmakers Woodings, Malek, named ‘rising stars’ by MSNBC

Two freshman who rose to the top during their first terms in the Idaho House were tabbed by MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” as promising young politicians.

Both in their early 30s, Boise Democrat Holli Woodings and Coeur d’Alene Republican Luke Malek were the show’s picks, as announced by Kristen Welker Friday.

Woodings is the lone Democrat running to replace outgoing GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. In the Nov. 4 general election, Woodings will face the winner of the May 20 GOP primary between Rep. Lawerence Denney of Midvale, former Sens. Evan Frasure of Pocatello and Mitch Toryanski of Boise and Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane.

Early in the 2013 session, Malek helped negotiate changes to Gov. Butch Otter’s state-run health insurance exchange and win 14 deciding votes on the law from House GOP freshmen.

Malek’s re-election bid is against Toby Schindelbeck, who vows to work to repeal the state-run Your Health Idaho Exchange. The same course is advocated by Otter’s challenger, Sen. Russ Fulcher, which would shift operation of the exchange to the federal government. Idaho ranks No. 2 in the country for per capita signups under the Affordable Care Act.

Last week, Malek appeared in my story about “an awakening” among establishment Republicans who are fighting to regain control of the state Republican Party apparatus.

MSNBC cited “our smart sources” in choosing Woodings and Malek. Though they didn’t give him credit, the Statesman’s Rocky Barker was among those consulted by the cable channel.

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