State Politics

Election 2018: ‘Don’t know’ is leading the race for Idaho governor

From left: Tommy Ahlquist, Raul Labrador, Brad Little.
From left: Tommy Ahlquist, Raul Labrador, Brad Little.

With the primaries for Idaho’s open governor’s seat about six months away, a recent poll shows “don’t know” in the lead among likely candidates.

Dan Jones and Associates polled 619 Idahoans between Nov. 8 and 15 for Idaho Politics Weekly, with a 3.94 percent margin of error. Of those, 36 percent said they didn’t know who they would favor to lead Idaho’s executive branch.

Three Republican candidates had the next-highest statewide support: Lt. Gov. Brad Little (21 percent), U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador (17 percent) and Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist (14 percent). Five percent of those polled selected “other.”

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, a Republican who has announced he is not running for governor, received 4 percent support as did GOP child advocate Lisa Marie, who does plan to run.

But the poll had a flaw: “Clearly, this is an open race at this point, with no Democrat yet announcing a candidacy,” the Idaho Politics Weekly post announcing the results stated Monday.

So far, two Democrats have filed early paperwork to run for governor. The most prominent is A.J. Balukoff, who challenged Gov. Butch Otter in 2014 and announced his 2018 candidacy on Nov. 2 — one week before the poll was conducted. Boise homeless advocate Troy Minton filed in early 2017 but does not appear to be actively campaigning.

LaVarr Webb, the website’s publisher, told the Statesman the pollster erred in not including Balukoff. Neither the pollster nor the person who wrote up the results Monday was aware Balukoff had filed.

Webb said Balukoff will be included in the next poll, but that likely will not happen until after the first of the year.

Among the gubernatorial poll’s other findings:

▪  Among Mormon voters — Ahlquist and Labrador are LDS — Ahlquist received 23 percent, Little 22 percent and Labrador 17 percent.

▪  In the 1st Congressional District, Labrador’s home district, he received 22 percent support. Little received 21 percent and Ahlquist 12 percent.

▪  In the 2nd Congressional District, Little received 22 percent, Ahlquist 16 percent and Labrador 12 percent.

Idaho Politics Weekly, an online publication, is substantially funded by Utah-based Zions Bank.

Republican Gov. Butch Otter is not seeking a fourth term, opening the seat for the 2018 election.

According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office, nine candidates have filed their initial paperwork to run for governor. Along with the six mentioned above, they include Republican Steve Pankey and independents James McLaughlin and John Wiechec.

The actual filing period for candidates’ declarations for the May 15 primary is Feb. 26 to March 9.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell