Idaho Governor Brad Little gives a victory speech at the Idaho GOP election night watch party at the Grove in Boise, Idaho on November 8, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little will be re-elected to a second term as governor, with the Associated Press calling the race for Little at 9:05 p.m. Mountain time on Tuesday, moments after polls closed in North Idaho.
The AP called the race before statewide results were available.
Shortly after 12:30 a.m., Wednesday, partial, unofficial election results showed Little had amassed 425,650 votes, or 60% of the votes cast in that race. Democrat Stephen Heidt was in second place with 87,621 votes, or 21%, and independent Ammon Bundy was in third with 63,796 votes, or almost 16% of the votes.
The field of gubernatorial hopefuls also included Libertarian Paul Sand, who had 4,886 votes, or 1.2% of the vote, and Constitution Party nominee Chantyrose Davison had 3,546 votes, for less than 1% of the vote. Write-in candidate Lisa Marie also ran in the race, but her vote totals were not immediately available early Wednesday morning.
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Shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday, Little addressed a crowd of more than 100 supporters at the Idaho Republican Party’s election night rally at the Grove Hotel in downtown Boise. Little told the crowd his projected victory represents “a mandate” to continue the policies and leadership style from his first four years in office.
Through his campaign team and press secretary, Little declined to speak with the Sun on Tuesday night and instead issued a written statement.
“To me, today’s election results translate to one thing — the people of Idaho are ready to continue investing in students, teachers, parents and brighter futures,” Little said in the written statement. “They want us to keep our state on this path of incredible and unprecedented success — and to continue to show Washington, D.C., and the rest of the country how to do things right.”
Little spoke to a handful of television reporters Tuesday night and then left the Idaho Republican Party’s election night rally by 10:30 p.m., before several of his fellow Republican candidates took the stage to speak.
The gubernatorial campaign in Idaho
Little ran a quiet re-election campaign. He declined to debate his opponents during the primary election and general election cycles this year and eschewed a drawn out statewide campaign blitz, although he did participate in the traditional Idaho Republican Party roadshow that stopped in seven Idaho towns between Oct. 17 and Oct. 22.
Meanwhile, Bundy ran the most public traditional political campaign of any candidate in the field despite his status as an anti government activist who at one point was banned from the Idaho State Capitol building following a series of 2020 trespassing, resisting and obstructing arrests for protesting COVID-19 policies and precautions. Bundy attended dozens of events, rallies, town halls and public events across the state. He unveiled a series of campaign ads through his social media channels, and his supporters placed campaign signs around the state. Bundy was fined $250 by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office earlier this month for failing to clearly identify that his campaign was responsible for a series of “Don’t vote” signs and a related “don’t vote Idaho” website.
On the campaign trail, Bundy pledged to repeal the state’s personal property tax and individual income tax. Repealing the individual income tax alone would immediately cut off 42% of the state general fund’s revenue. According to the Idaho Division of Financial Management, individual income tax collections accounted for $2.6 billion of the $6.2 billion revenue total. Bundy hasn’t articulated the specific ways his cuts would affect government programs. But in an Oct. 25 press release, Bundy said he would diminish welfare programs in Idaho, citing food stamps, housing assistance, publicly funded health care, “free education” and transportation, all of which Bundy called staples of a socialist agenda.
If Bundy’s 15% share of the vote holds, he will win the highest percentage of the vote that any independent candidate for Idaho governor has won in at least 28 years. In 2010, independent Jana Kemp won 5.9% of the vote in her unsuccessful gubernatorial bid, the previous high mark for independent gubernatorial candidate since 1994, which is as far back as the Idaho Secretary of State’s online election results archives show.
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Heidt is an English as a second language teacher who worked for the Idaho Department of Correction before quitting his job to run for governor. Heidt, was an underdog candidate who was surprised to find himself as the Democrats’ only nominee for the May primary election after perceived frontrunner and Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad was excluded from the ballot because he was still registered as a Republican. Heidt campaigned in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, criminal justice reform and protecting women’s privacy and reproductive rights.
Idaho’s statewide election results won’t become official until after they are canvassed and certified by the Idaho State Board of Canvassers. The deadline for the Idaho State Board of Canvassers to meet to certify election results is Nov. 23.
Idaho’s governor serves a four-year term and will earn an annual salary of $151,400 starting in 2023, according to Idaho law.
Check back with the Idaho Capital Sun later Tuesday and Wednesday morning for more election coverage.
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