Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Humphreys. (Photo courtesy of the Humphreys for Governor campaign.)
To this point in Idaho’s campaign season, underdog Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Humphreys hasn’t been afraid to speak out and challenge his more well known and experienced GOP opponents.
Humphreys, a 31-year-old conservative and supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, criticized Gov. Brad Little for declining to participate in statewide televised debates, saying an incumbent should be proud to debate their record and has no honor if they don’t participate.
Humphreys also called out Little and Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin for the public feud that has been ongoing between the top two Republican officials since 2020, which has been marked by McGeachin issuing executive orders in Little’s absence that were immediately rescinded by Little.
Humphreys called the rift between the governor and lieutenant governors’ offices “a great disservice to the people of Idaho.”
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“There is no positive synergy there,” Humphreys said in an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun. “The relationship is completely caustic.”
For that reason, Humphreys said he isn’t making endorsements in other primaries, and pledged to work with the person elected lieutenant governor and those elected to the Idaho Legislature.
“The Republican caucus is plagued by factional politics,” Humphreys said. “My candidacy is so unique. I don’t belong to either faction.”
Humphreys supports school choice, a school funding overhaul and cutting taxes. But his proposal of eliminating Idaho’s income tax would remove about half of the state’s general fund revenue and cut off the its largest source of revenue. That would cut into funding available for state programs and services and the amount of money for salaries and benefits, and Humphreys wants to respond by shrinking the government’s footprint to what he calls necessary and reasonable services.
While Humphreys brings youth to the race, it comes at the cost of executive and electoral experience. Humphreys has served as a neighborhood precinct committee officer and as a regional chairman for the Idaho Republican Party. He has also been a past delegate for Trump. Humphreys was also a partner in the Make Ada Great Again campaign to encourage people to run for party positions in Ada County. He has never held statewide elected office, served in the Idaho Legislature or overseen a budget as large as the state budget.
Professionally, Humphreys is a financial adviser by trade who moved to Idaho in 2012 after formerly working as a roughneck drilling for oil.
He grew up as part of an immigrant family. His late mother, whose funeral was earlier this month, came to the United States from the former Yugoslavia. Humphreys said he never finished eighth grade, “did a couple of years in high school” and then got his GED.
Humphreys and his wife, Holly, live in Eagle with their two children and a hound dog. Humphreys credits his wife, a local nurse anesthetist, with inspiring him to pursue higher education. Ultimately, Humphreys got his undergraduate degree from Western Governors University, a masters degree in finance and his graduate certificate from the College for Financial Planning.
What would Humphreys do as governor of Idaho?
Two of Humphreys’ signature campaign issues are his pledges to do away with income tax in Idaho and facilitate even more school choice options for families.
“Education has to be No. 1,” Humphreys said. “We have a broken education system. My opponent, the current administration, feels that throwing more money at education is the only solution. I believe Idaho can lead America with an innovative approach to education.”
Humphreys believes tax dollars for education should follow students to the school of a family’s choice, even private schools — not just to traditional neighborhood public schools and charter schools as is the case today.
“We have a one-size-fits-all system that will never fit all,” Humphreys said. “School choice answers all the questions of vaccine mandates, mask mandates, curriculum. Let families make all those decisions for their children.”
He also supports vocational training and believes career-technical programs can help today’s students start a career right out of high school and not struggle as much with high cost of living. Humphreys moved to the Treasure Valley almost six years ago, but said he and his wife would not be able to move into the Eagle neighborhood they live in if they were moving now because of increased housing costs.
“We have to tackle this housing issue and the best way to do it … is vocational training,” Humphreys said. “There is not enough supply to meet demand. We have a huge influx of people moving here from states with failed policies. We need a workforce that can provide the supply and vocational training gets to the root of the issues.”
Humphreys said his finance experience positions him well to oversee the Idaho Division of Financial Management and propose a state budget.
Removing the income tax would put more money in working Idahoans’ pockets — Humphreys estimates $3,000 per year or more for many Idahoans. But it would also cut off the state’s largest sources of revenue and could provide a shock to services and programs. Individual income taxes alone brought in more than $2.45 billion of the state’s $5 billion in general fund revenue in fiscal year 2021, according to the Idaho Division of Financial Management.
Humphreys said that would force the state to shrink government and become “laser focused” on necessary services of state government. He also wants to find ways to cut spending, such as by not sending inmates out of state to be incarcerated or reviewing government programs that he said are on “autopay,” like a subscription service many families would have.
Humphreys also supports criminal justice and reentry reform, saying there are too many barriers people face to finding work and housing and completing incarceration. He proposes issuing everyone who completes incarceration a state-issued ID, copy of their birth certificate and Social Security card.
“What if we said ‘You leave with the basic documents you need so you can seek employment immediately,’” Humphreys said.
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Little and McGeachin are the frontrunners, but a crowded race can become unpredictable
The Idaho Republican Party won’t be endorsing a candidate in the GOP governor’s primary election or any other Republican primaries this year, Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said.
“As a state party, we don’t get involved with supporting candidates in the primary,” Luna said. “We let the voters decide and after the majority of Republicans decide which candidate best represents them, that will be our mandate to go forward.”
Humphreys is one of eight Republicans running in the May 17 Republican primary election for governor. The others include Little, McGeachin, Steven R. Bradshaw, Ben Cannady, Ashley Jackson, Lisa Marie and Cody Usabel.
Boise State University associate professor of political science Jaclyn Kettler said primary elections can become more interesting and unpredictable with more candidates involved. For example, if there are more active candidates in the race, it may be possible to win a primary with a lower percentage of the vote than if there are just two candidates running.
“Little and McGeachin are treated as the frontrunners, but Humphreys is running an active campaign as well. It’s not just the two of them in the race,” Kettler said.
The winner of the primary election advances to the Nov. 8 general election, where independent, third party and a Democratic candidate will also appear.
Democrat Stephen Heidt of Marsing is the only Democrat whose name will appear on the May 17 Democratic primary ballots, although Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad is running as a write-in candidate in the Democratic primary. Gubernatorial candidates who appear on the Nov. 8 ballot include Constitution Party candidate Chantyrose Davison, independent candidate Ammon Bundy and the winner of the Libertarian Party primary: Paul Sand or John Dionne Jr.
The last day to request an absentee ballot for the May 17 primaries is May 6.
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