West Boise Democrat Steve Berch, who lost the 2012 District 15 House race by 6 percentage points, announced Wednesday that he'll try again in 2014.
Berch likely would have preferred a rematch with former GOP Rep. Mark Patterson, who won with 53 percent to Berch's 47 percent. The news in November that Patterson had pleaded guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in 1974 and withheld that information from his concealed weapons permit application would have made Berch's task easier.
But late last month, the District 15 Republican Committee urged Patterson to resign and the embattled lawmaker took the advice after weeks of resistance. His replacement, former Idaho State Police Capt. and U.S. Marshal Patrick McDonald, was appointed and sworn in Wednesday as the newest member of the House. McDonald himself was campaigning to unseat Patterson and now will run as an appointed incumbent.
Berch spent about $47,000 on his 2012 race; Patterson spent about $38,500. Since then, Berch was elected as a director of the Boise Auditorium District.
In a news release Wednesday, Berch connected the District 15 GOP committee, which is chaired by Rep. McDonald's wife and Idaho Senate Sergeant at Arms Sarah Jane McDonald, to Patterson's rise. The District 15 Committee elected Patterson as chairman before his 2012 election.
It is time for a change; a time to elect new people and new voices to represent all citizens, not just the same group of well-connected insiders," Berch said. "West Boise residents in District 15 understand this better than anyone. After electing someone who avoided all public scrutiny even after taking office, voters in this traditional Republican district have learned they can no longer trust someone just because they have an 'R' next to their name."
This year's contest will mark Berch's third run for the Legislature. Before redistricting, Berch was defeated in the 2010 District 14 House race by now-House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, who won 68 percent to 32 percent in a heavily GOP district. Berch spent about $52,700 in 2010.
The new West Boise district is competitive for Democrats, having historically favored moderate Republicans.