When Idaho House District 10B candidate Greg Chaney announced late last month that he would "neither actively seek nor accept the Republican nomination" after details about his brushes with the law scuttled his candidacy, there was quite a dilemma.
Chaney had no GOP competition for the seat now held by Rep. Darrell Bolz, who is retiring. It was too late for other Republicans to file - and too late for Chaney to remove his name from the GOP primary election ballot Tuesday.
Two men from the district stepped forward: Brian Bishop, a Harvard-educated corporate finance attorney, and Kent Marmon, who has been active in Canyon County politics for decades, including a brief stint on the Caldwell City Council in the 1980s.
We commend both men for stepping forward at that late hour to become write-in candidates for their party. The situation represents a rare set of circumstances, according to Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa - not to mention an uphill climb for the candidates. And there are a few important details voters will have to follow through on to make their votes legal. We'll elaborate on the unusual circumstances and possible outcomes in a minute.
We are endorsing Bishop for the nomination. He's a clear and logical thinker and unafraid to think for himself - even when it comes to completing the survey on the Republican Party platform. He doesn't buy into ideas about repealing the 17th Amendment (which would end your privilege to vote for U.S. senators), returning to the gold standard and some of the other confounding planks. What's more, Bishop - who graduated from Vallivue High School, Brigham Young University (with a degree in linguistics), Harvard Law School and Tufts University (with a master's degree in international relations) - is supportive of the Idaho Core Standards. He sees the need and long-term value of raising the education standards in the state, even if that means working with legislators to tweak aspects of Common Core standards and the testing that will be used to measure success.
Marmon, to the contrary, signed off on all of the GOP party planks and has bought into the idea that the Idaho Core Standards are federal initiatives that diminish the autonomy of local districts. We think Marmon is a valuable member of the community but we didn't see enough evidence that he would think as independently as Bishop in a Legislature that already has lock-step tendencies. Both men say they would try to emulate the collaborative style of Bolz should they win the nomination - and that is a good thing.
Now, back to the write-in candidate process hurdles and the array of possible outcomes.
Ysursa says he's seen write-in candidates compete and win before, but not as in this scenario:
Chaney, the only name on the GOP ballot, still can win, and he will receive the certificate of nomination if he does. Despite what he has stated in his news release, there is no legal obstacle hindering his advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
Bishop and Marmon face a bit of a voter education nightmare by carrying on write-in candidacies.
Voters must follow through and write in the name of their candidate on the correct line, getting at least the last name correct. They must fill in the oval correctly next to that write-in spot.
They have to get more votes than Chaney.
There are 4,800 registered Republicans presently among District 10B's 45,000 registered voters. Some of the 9,400 registered unaffiliated voters could sign up and write in for Bishop or Marmon.
How many votes will it take to beat Chaney and defeat the other write-in candidate? That's anybody's guess, especially considering turnout could be 20 percent.
This is yet another reminder that every vote counts - but only if it is executed correctly.
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