Capitol & State

Gov. Otter rode Mike Simpson's coattails to win renomination

In last week's GOP primary, Sen. Russ Fulcher defeated Gov. Butch Otter in the 1st Congressional District that Otter represented as a member of the U.S. House for three terms, from 2001 to 2007.

Otter won renomination on the strength of his showing in the 2nd District, drafting behind eight-term Congressman Mike Simpson's big win.

Fulcher won the 1st District — western and northern Idaho —  with 37,443 votes to Otter's 34,462, giving the challenger a 2,981-vote lead. Fulcher had the endorsement of 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador, a vocal critic of Otter since he helped unseat his choice for party chairman in 2008 and defeat Otter's proposed fuel tax increases in 2009.

Fulcher won seven of the 18 counties in the 1st District. Most significantly, he carried Idaho's three most populous counties — Ada, Canyon and Kootenai — along with Benewah, Clearwater, Idaho and Latah. Fulcher won the Ada County portion of the 1st District 10,123 to 7,697, a 2,426-vote margin.

Otter won his bid for renomination in the 2nd District that includes the eastern Treasure Valley, Magic Valley and eastern Idaho, carrying 45,324 votes to Fulcher's 30,259, a 15,065-vote margin. Otter won the overall race, 51 percent to 44 percent, or 79,786 for Otter and 67,702 for Fulcher.

Fulcher lost the Ada County portion of the 2nd District by 979 votes and won just two of the other 25 counties in the 2nd — Jefferson and Oneida.

Simpson led the way for his longtime friend Otter, who co-chaired the Simpson campaign.

Despite unrelenting hoopla in the national media about how tea party challenger Bryan Smith had Simpson on the run, Simpson won a 62 percent to 38 percent landslide — besting Smith with 48,635 votes to the challenger's 30,261, or 18,374 votes.

The Secretary of State's unofficial tally of the May 20 results reports votes by county, not congressional district. Ada County is split between the 1st and 2nd districts, roughly on an east-west line following Idaho 55 and Cloverdale Road and a north-south divide running along Interstate 84.

The Statesman tallied the votes based on unofficial results reported by Ada County.

That required hand-counting the 1st District votes in Ada County by precinct. The 1st Congressional District includes all of Legislative Districts 14, 20, 21 and 22; Precincts 1501 and 1504 in Legislative District 15; Precinct 1607 in District 16; Precincts 1801 through 1804 in District 18; and Precinct 1903 in District 19.

Simpson has a rematch of his 1998 win over former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings in November. Otter faces Democrat A.J. Balukoff, president of the Boise School Board.