Smyser rules out run to replace Luna as Idaho superintendent

Sen. Thayn, R-Emmett, and Rep. Thompson, R-Idaho Falls, are thinking about joining the race.


Former Idaho Sen. Melinda Smyser told the Idaho Press-Tribune that she will not run for superintendent of public instruction to replace the retiring Tom Luna.

Top Republicans, including Luna, had said Smyser, a longtime teacher, former school counselor and Parma School Board member who now works for U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, would have made a formidable candidate.

“ … While I am flattered that he and many others would feel I am qualified to take on the challenge of succeeding him in this office, I am going to … decline the opportunity,” Smyser said in a release to the Nampa newspaper Tuesday.

Luna said Monday that he will not seek a third term. Smyser has served as Luna’s campaign treasurer. She served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2012.

Her quick decision might prompt others to consider the race, including Luna’s chief deputy, former Caldwell Superintendent Roger Quarles, and former Rep. Steve Smylie, R-Boise, who narrowly lost to Luna in the 2006 GOP primary.

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, and Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Idaho Falls., told Idaho Education News on Wednesday that they are considering a run for the office.

Two Republicans already have announced: Randy Jensen, a principal in American Falls, and John Eynon, a music teacher in Cottonwood.

Democrat Jana Jones, who lost 51 percent to 49 percent in the 2006 general election, is the likely Democratic nominee.

Thayn said between 15 and 30 people approached him about running for state superintendent.

Thompson said he’s been urged to run, too. He’s worked as a consultant for Idaho National Laboratory as well as a regional manager for five Western states, where he worked with school districts. His wife, Chanin, worked as a teacher and school counselor for more than 16 years.

IEN reporters Kevin Richert and Clark Corbin contributed.

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