Meet two of the Idaho Democratic Party’s statewide candidates for the November election

Terri Pickens Manweiler, Stephen Heidt highlight priorities at first day of Idaho Dems convention in downtown Boise

By: - June 17, 2022 5:53 pm
Terri Pickens Manweiler

Candidate for Lt. Governor Terri Pickens Manweiler speaks at the Idaho Democratic Convention on June 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Terri Pickens Manweiler sounded the alarm during the opening day of the Idaho Democratic Party’s convention on Friday about the U.S. Supreme Court being poised to potentially overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. 

“In no uncertain terms, our fundamental freedom to be a human being with a uterus is going away,” Pickens Manweiler told convention delegates. “How do I explain that to my 18-year-old daughter? How do I explain that to all of the kids that come to my house for dinner, that we go camping with? How do we explain that to our children who were born into these rights?”

Pickens Manweiler and gubernatorial candidate Stephen Heidt used the opening day of their party’s political convention in downtown Boise to deliver speeches, mingle with delegates, and begin their general election campaigns. The convention attracted several hundred delegates and attendees and is geared toward getting the party organized and motivated heading into the Nov. 8 general election. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this week’s convention is the Democrats’ first since 2018.

Idaho Democrat Terri Pickens Manweiler says she’s running to protect rights, support public lands

Pickens Manweiler, who has been campaigning for lieutenant governor since August, delivered a speech to a sold-out luncheon of delegates and joined Idaho House of Representatives Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, for a question-and-answer session. 

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Highlighting a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion published this spring by Politico, Pickens Manweiler called on Idahoans to speak out, support Democratic candidates and vote Republicans out of office.

“What we need to do in these next several weeks and then in the weeks to come is we need to let them know, in no uncertain terms, we will not go back,” Pickens Manweiler said. 

A trial attorney, Pickens Manweiler is a founding partner of the Boise firm Pickens Law. She has been a board member for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky for the past 5-and-a-half years. She and her husband, Mark, have two children who attend Idaho public schools. She enjoys skiing, rafting, camping and hunting birds, pheasants and ducks. 

Pickens Manweiler told the Idaho Capital Sun she has a few top priorities guiding her candidacy: support for education, protection of Idaho’s public lands, investment in infrastructure and the economy, and protecting civil rights.

Pickens Manweiler said she would fight and be an advocate for the LQBTQ+ community.

“My daughter is gay. I want my daughter to have the same fundamental rights I have had,” Pickens Manweiler said. 

Another priority for Pickens Manweiler is rejecting and driving out hate and extremism. Pointing out that the lieutenant governor serves as president of the Idaho Senate, Pickens Manweiler said would use that role to oppose hate.

“It will be my distinct pleasure to hold the gavel in the Senate to make sure every legislator knows the importance of standing up and protecting marginalized communities,” Pickens Manweiler said. “I stand arm-in-arm with marginalized communities and with allies. If we all use our one voice together, it will be loud and it will be really hard not to hear it.”

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Responding to a question from the audience, Pickens Manweiler pledged to deliver the same message she shared in Boise at the Democrats’ convention in every corner of the state, no matter how conservative the county. She said she looks forward to the chance to debate her Republican opponent, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and would welcome the chance to appear on conservative radio shows.

“I am unabashedly proud to be a pro-choice woman,” Pickens Manweiler said. 

In Idaho lieutenant governor is a part-time position that has a four-year term. The governor and lieutenant governor do not run as part of the same ticket in Idaho, in the way that presidential and vice presidential candidates do at the national level. 

Gubernatorial hopeful Stephen Heidt teaches at Idaho prison

Meanwhile Heidt, who had little name recognition heading into the race, focused on introducing himself to many Democrats for the first time and telling his story.

During a breakfast speech at the convention, Heidt spoke in English and in Spanish and described himself as a fighter who would work to unite Idahoans. 

Stephen Heidt
Candidate for governor Stephen Heidt speaks at the Idaho Democratic Convention on June 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

“Idaho Democrats — we are going to put our losses behind us,” Heidt told delegates. “This campaign shouts loudly that the basic principles of our state government need not be meanness, racism, sexism or ignorance.”

Heidt is an English as a second language teacher who worked for more than a decade with the Idaho Department of Correction before resigning to run for governor. Heidt also served in the U.S. Army National Guard and later joined the Reserve 385th Combat Support Hospital. Heidt and his wife, Alexandra, live in Marsing and have five adult children. Everyone in Heidt’s family is bilingual or multilingual and developed fluency by serving foreign missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said. 

Heidt said he decided to run for governor after meeting an inmate who he said was serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Heidt chose to run for governor, as opposed to running for the Idaho Legislature, because he said becoming governor would be a more efficient way to push for the policy changes he wants. 

Heidt’s top priorities include reducing property taxes, reducing the prison population by 1,000 residents, decriminalizing cannabis, increasing funding for and supporting education and teachers.

“As a lifelong educator I will not sit back while Idaho teachers are the lowest paid in the nation,” Heidt said. 

Heidt previously ran unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as a Republican out of Utah and then Washington in 1986, 1990 and 1994. 

“I ran three different times and the meanness and vitriol in the Republican Party was such that it turned me off of political parties,” Heidt told the Sun. 

Heidt always considered himself a moderate and became politically independent for a little more than 20 years, he said. He moved to Marsing in 2000 and said he became more and more progressive and concerned about issues like prison reform and education. He became a registered Democrat a couple of years ago after his father urged him “to come home” politically. 

Heidt became the Idaho Democrats’ nominee for governor after winning a quiet, unusual primary election that featured an unsuccessful write-in campaign by Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad. Heidt was the only candidate to appear on Democrats’ primary ballots because Rognstad was still registered as a Republican at the candidate filing deadline, the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office said. Official primary election results show that Heidt had 25,088 votes, compared to 6,736 write-in votes for Rognstad. 

Heidt told the Sun he will run an active campaign for governor that embarks for Twin Falls, central Idaho and eastern Idaho, beginning next week. He said the campaign takes up 12 to 14 hours of his day. Heidt and senior campaign advisor Michelle Vincent said the way for him to win the race is by inspiring more than 1,000 volunteers and by having conversations with Idahoans one-on-one through knocking on doors and attending meetings where people are at. 

“Which is what we are going to be doing all summer,” Heidt said. 

Heidt will face off against incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little, independent Ammon Bundy, Libertarian Paul Sand and Constitution Party candidate Chantyrose Davison in the Nov. 8 general election.

The Democratic convention continues Saturday and Sunday in downtown Boise. 

The Idaho Republican Party’s convention runs July 14 through July 16 at College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.

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