The May 17 primary results left us with a mixed bag of observations about closed primaries, the unreliability of endorsements, the value of transparency, the perils of low turnout and the stronger-than-expected pulse of “moderates” in legislative elections.
Supreme Court Neither the many endorsements for Idaho Supreme Court candidate Clive Strong (including this editorial board’s) nor the life and bench experiences of Sergio Gutierrez were enough to propel them to victory — or even to the runoff election. Voters chose Rupert attorney Robyn Brody and Republican Sen. Curt McKenzie to face off in November. We expect Brody to inherit nonpolitical support that was attracted to both Strong and Gutierrez. That, combined with her work ethic and personable style, make her the candidate with the most momentum entering the summer.
Pure in Defeat We are no fans of “unopposed” political races, closed primaries or low voter turnout — which are all somewhat related. We hope the supporters of Rod Beck — one of the architects of the GOP closed primary some years back, who hoped to keep the party “pure” — see the pure irony in his loss to incumbent Rep. Patrick McDonald in Ada County’s District 15 B GOP primary race.
Doubling Down We suspect the “Double Primary” factor (we just had the GOP presidential primary and Democratic presidential caucus in March) was a contributing factor to the lackluster turnout, which ranged from from 15.2 percent in Ada County to 22 percent of registered voters in places such as Kootenai County. Not enough people understand or believe how important the May primary is in determining who advances, gets into office and sets policy. As an example, just more than 148,000 ballots were cast statewide in the nonpartisan Idaho Supreme Court race — which means that small sample got to pare down the field for the potentially 750,000-plus registered voters in the November general election.
Ever-Evolving Ada Ada County made great strides with its new voting equipment and the quicker-than-ever turnaround of election results. Though we think much has been done to make voting easier, we’d like to see the polls open at 7 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. — a call the clerks are able to make on their own. The earlier time would make it easier for folks who report to work at 8 a.m. to vote on their way — and not have to plan a special trip later in the day. We understand more temporary early voting locations are under consideration, and we hope that option is implemented by November.
Moderately Speaking In this GOP-dominant state, many of the close races pit so-called “moderate” Republicans against so-called “conservative” Republicans. Though those distinctions blur, we believe some of those “moderates” — those driven more by pragmatism than ideology — will better serve the greater good during the 2017 Legislature. We hope the trend continues, with more governing and less politicking.
Recall Reset Voters removed two West Ada School District trustees in pretty emphatic fashion. That, combined with two earlier resignations, means that four of the five members of the Board of Trustees serving in July 2015 are gone. It is time for the state’s largest school district to move on, but never forget that this episode underscored the patrons’ wish for transparency and accountability. That means taking the time necessary to consider new trustee candidates in a public forum setting. No shenanigans. No people showing up for the first time the night of the vote and being appointed. The past 10 months of chaos seemed more like 10 years amid the dysfunction. The students, parents and teachers deserve all the patience and openness necessary to get it right.
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