Former Rep. Luke Malek drops out of Idaho’s lieutenant governor race
Citing the need to prevent extremist politics in Idaho, Malek endorses opponent
Rotunda at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Former Rep. Luke Malek announced Sunday night that he would end his campaign for lieutenant governor and support House Speaker Scott Bedke in the 2022 election, citing a need to prevent extremism in the state.
Malek, who represented the Coeur d’Alene area from 2012 to 2018, declared his candidacy for the office in November 2020. He had raised more than $100,000 by the end of October.
Malek wrote in a statement that, by many measures, his campaign was successful and gaining more support regularly, but that stepping aside was the best decision he could make for Idaho.
“More than ever, Idahoans must focus carefully on the character and qualifications of political candidates. Extremist politics has divided our state, wasted our hard-earned tax dollars on divisive lawsuits that stand no chance of success, rejected common sense education funding that is crucial to our present and future economy, and discounted and demeaned the role and the value of trained law enforcement, our first responders, and our health care workers,” Malek wrote. “Extremist politics threaten everything Idahoans hold dear.”
Malek wrote that is why he was throwing his full support to rival candidate Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, who announced he would run for the post in May. Bedke is running against Rep. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, who was censured by the Idaho Legislature last week.
“He is an experienced, thoughtful, committed, and compassionate conservative with unquestionable moral integrity,” Malek wrote in the announcement. “He is a senior statesman and proven leader who can help bring the vision, stability and decorum needed in our state government.”
Giddings is a fighter pilot and officer in the Air Force reserves. She grew up on a ranch in White Bird and is a former NCAA Division I athlete. Giddings is one of the most conservative members of the Idaho House of Representatives and had a 100% A+ rating on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Freedom Index during the 2021 legislative session.
The Idaho House of Representatives voted 49-19 to censure Giddings and remove her from one of her three committee assignments for conduct unbecoming of a legislator after she shared a blog post that identified and included the photo of a 19-year-old legislative intern who had accused former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger of rape. Von Ehlinger pleaded not guilty to felony charges of rape and forcible penetration by use of a foreign object earlier this month. He is awaiting a jury trial in April.
Bedke is a rancher from Oakley and the longest serving speaker of the house in Idaho history. He is serving his 11th term in the Legislature.
Bedke welcomed Malek’s endorsement and decision.
“Luke Malek, a well-regarded former legislator, lawyer and friend, has put his faith in me to become your next lieutenant governor by selflessly dropping out of the race,” Bedke said in a written statement Sunday evening. “This act shows that he holds Idaho’s future and values at the highest regard. I am humbled by his willingness to step aside and put his trust in me. I deeply appreciate his continued effort to be a dedicated public servant. I promise to be the conservative leader our state needs to ensure Idaho continues to be a place where our families grow and thrive.”
Malek had received sizable donations from several former legislators, including former Rep. Maxine Bell, who represented the Jerome area, and Sen. John Goedde, who represented the Coeur d’Alene area and served as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. He had also received significant financial support from firefighter organizations across Idaho.
Malek said he would defer his candidacy until a future election cycle.
“While this is not my time, I hope you will all work with me to fight for our children’s education and the future of our state by supporting Scott Bedke for this vitally important position,” he wrote.
Incumbent lieutenant governor Janice McGeachin has announced she will run for governor in the 2022 Republican primary.
Idaho’s primary election will take place May 17, 2022, and the general election will be held on Nov. 8, 2022. The deadline for candidates to file for statewide office is March 11.
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