Capitol & State

Idaho’s 2018 state races are opening up to new faces. There could be more.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little talks about the future of Idaho's economy

Lt. Gov. Brad Little talks about the economy — and how Idaho can be in a position to withstand a recession. Little effectively announced his candidacy for governor in 2018 on Wednesday by filing campaign committee paperwork with the state, which a
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Lt. Gov. Brad Little talks about the economy — and how Idaho can be in a position to withstand a recession. Little effectively announced his candidacy for governor in 2018 on Wednesday by filing campaign committee paperwork with the state, which a

Idaho has seven statewide elected offices. When those four-year terms are up in 2018, at least three of the seats will be open, with no elected or appointed incumbent running.

The last time that many statewide races were open at one time was a generation ago. And there could be more.

Here’s where things stand, nearly a year before the March 2018 filing deadline.

Governor: Third-term Gov. Butch Otter, 74, currently the longest continuously serving governor in the country, is not seeking re-election. Six candidates, including three Republicans, have declared their candidacies thus far.

The last time the governor’s race was an open affair was in 2006, when Otter first ran. His predecessor, Dirk Kempthorne, had resigned that May to become President George W. Bush’s Interior secretary. Then-Lt. Gov. Jim Risch served out Kempthorne’s term but had previously committed to run again for lieutenant governor.

To date, the leading candidates to succeed Otter, given the Republican advantage in Idaho, are Lt. Gov. Brad Little, developer Tommy Ahlquist and former Meridian state Sen. Russ Fulcher. U.S. Rep. Raúl Labrador remains a likely additional GOP contender. One Democrat and two independents also have filed papers to run. Otter’s 2014 Democratic challenger, A.J. Balukoff, said he’s considering another run.

Lieutenant governor: With Brad Little running for governor, the race will have no elected or appointed incumbent running for the first time in more than 30 years. In 1986, incumbent Republican David Leroy ran for governor and Otter won the race to begin a 14-year tenure as Idaho’s No. 2 statewide officeholder, the longest ever.

Three candidates have declared to date, all Republicans: Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, former Idaho Falls Rep. Janice McGeachin and McCammon Rep. Kelley Packer. Idaho’s state Republican chairman, Steve Yates, is stepping down from that post and considering a run.

Treasurer: After five terms, incumbent Ron Crane is not seeking re-election. The last time the office saw an open race was when Crane first ran in 1998. Kevin Jones, who runs an investment company in Boise, is the first declared candidate, running as a Republican.

The other statewide officeholders are Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, State Controller Brandon Woolf and Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra. No challengers have declared in those races.

In 1994, races for governor, attorney general and school superintendent were open contests. Since then, no more than two races in the quadrennial state contests have been open at the same time. In 2014, the open races were for secretary of state and school superintendent.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @DentzerNews

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