A longtime Republican Idaho lawmaker who lost to a political newcomer in May’s primary is among six candidates mounting write-in campaigns.
Rep. Tom Loertscher of Iona filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday to run as an independent in eastern Idaho’s District 32 in the November general election.
Loertscher’s loss to Chad Christensen, a first-time candidate from Ammon, was perhaps the most surprising in the May primary in Idaho. Christensen said he ran against Loertscher after growing tired of the incumbent’s tendency to deny hearings for certain bills over the years.
Of the write-in candidates, Loertscher appears to be the most viable. He said he’s well known in his district and described his chances as “pretty good,” having served nearly 30 years in the Legislature and rising to chairman of the House State Affairs Committee.
“It’s an uphill battle and we know that, but we have a plan that we’re following,” he said.
That plan includes ads on radio, in local newspapers and mailers. He said ads might include something on how to correctly spell his name. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office said that misspellings aren’t automatically disqualified.
“If you can tell what their intention is, it will be counted,” said State Election Director Lisa Mason. “The minimum threshold is the surname. It doesn’t have to be spelled perfect, but it does have to have the last name.”
Loertscher said he wants to get back to the Legislature in 2019 because he expects voters will pass a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid eligibility in the November election. He said he’s not in favor of Medicaid expansion, but “it more than likely will pass, and my position is that we should try to fix the problems in the initiative.”
He also said he’d like to play a role in campaign finance reform, noting several pieces of legislation are likely coming in 2019.
The House State Affairs Committee “is one of the more pivotal committees in the House because of all the things that come through there,” he said.
Gambling, elections and gun-rights are some of the items considered by the committee.
Ralph Mossman of Driggs has also filed as an independent write-in candidate in the same district as Loertscher. Other write-in candidates running as independents are Michael Rath of Saint Maries for U.S. representative in District 1, Lisa Marie of Boise for governor, Tony Ullrich of Hammett for state representative in District 23, and Peter Rickards of Twin Falls for state senator in District 24. Marie and Rickards also lost races in the May primaries — Marie for governor and Rickards for U.S. House, District 2 — but filed for different seats this fall.
Write-in candidates can be registered with a particular party, but can’t put that on the ballot if they weren’t selected by primary voters to represent that party in the general election.