Idaho's next lieutenant governor will be a woman, making state history

Kristin Collum, left, and Janice McGeachin.
Kristin Collum, left, and Janice McGeachin.

For the first time in state history, Idaho's next lieutenant governor will be a woman.

Former state Rep. Janice McGeachin and first-time candidate Kristin Collum will represent the Republican and Democratic parties, respectively, on the November ballot. No third-party candidates filed for lieutenant governor this year.

"We as women have so much to offer," McGeachin said Wednesday. "As a woman, I really believe in having good communication with people, working with people and educating people. It is important to build good relationships. (Women) pay attention to detail."

"It's about time," Collum said. "It's probably late. I believe that every level of government needs a 50 percent female (representation)."

The two were among a wave of women who won statewide and Treasure Valley primaries Tuesday. Idaho is guaranteed to have women hold at least three statewide offices in 2019, also a first.

But Collum and McGeachin this spring have been focused first on their races, and on their visions for Idaho. Collum's interests include citizen data security; McGeachin wants to focus on helping students obtain skills to get jobs in the trade sector, and helping rural areas protect their resources.

The lieutenant governor serves both as president of the Senate and as the person prepared to take over at a moment’s notice if something should happen to the governor. The lieutenant governor also steps in if the sitting governor is out of state.

Collum dominated her primary, with nearly 90 percent of the vote against competitor Jim Fabe.

McGeachin's contest went far into the night on Tuesday. Part of a five-person Republican field, the race quickly became a near-tie between her and former Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates. The pair were just 1.6 percentage points apart as of the final, unofficial vote Wednesday morning.

There hasn't been a female nominee for lieutenant governor since 1998, when Democrat Sue Reents unsuccessfully ran against Butch Otter.

When asked what motivated her to run for office, Collum said simply, "the turnout of the 2016 election."

She referenced President Donald Trump's statements and treatment of women during his campaign. "I'm a mother of four daughters, and I realized the place we are in in this world just got set back 20 years," Collum said.

Collum, of Boise, is a software engineering manager at Xylem Inc. She is a former Army officer and served under Colin Powell at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. After 12 years in the military, she left to work at Micron, Hewlett-Packard and now her current employer.

McGeachin, of Idaho Falls, spent four terms in the House of Representatives before retiring in 2012. She and her husband own a restaurant and three other small businesses.

"It's an honor and I am greatly humbled to receive their support as Republican nominee for lieutenant governor," McGeachin said. "I am really excited about the opportunities we have."

Outside of her time in the House, McGeachin said she has spent more than 30 years in business administration that will benefit her work, should she win in the general election. That experience will aid her in "working with agencies and working with the governor to have an efficient customer relationship with the citizen," she said.

Collum also believes her work experience will be a boon. She said the work she did at Hewlett-Packard involved budgets and teams that were just as large as those in state government. She also believes she could put her military experience to work aiding the Idaho National Guard.

"HP rivals the size and complexity of the state of Idaho," she said. Of managing diverse teams, she added: "I had to motivate and inspire and help them focus on getting the job done."

Collum has already aligned her campaign with that of Paulette Jordan, the Democratic nominee for governor. The pair announced a week ahead of the primary that they had formed a joint ticket.

McGeachin and Republican governor nominee Brad Little have run separate efforts to date. That was already changing Wednesday: Little said in an afternoon interview that he had not yet talked to McGeachin, but planned to call her Wednesday “and see what we need to do to be successful in November.”

That was also on McGeachin's mind.

"I'm looking forward to being united with (Little)," she said.

This post has been updated to correct Collum's employment.

Ruth Brown: 208-377-6207, @ruthbrownnews
Cynthia Sewell contributed.
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