State Politics

West Ada sees contested GOP primaries for two House seats

Douglas Jones
Douglas Jones

Ada County’s only contested primary race for an open legislative seat is in the northwest corner of the county, where the wife of an outgoing Republican lawmaker is seeking her husband’s seat against a former 10-term legislator.

One District 14 House race pits Gayann DeMordaunt of Eagle against Douglas Jones of Meridian. In the other, House Majority leader Mike Moyle, who is seeking a 10th term, is challenged by Eagle’s Michael Greenway, a Boise State University student.

DeMordaunt’s husband, Reed, chairman of the House Education Committee, is stepping down after three terms. Gayann DeMordaunt, 50, is a governor appointee to the state Public Charter School Commission. She cites education as her top priority, followed by keeping taxes down and limiting the scope of government.

Jones, 67, represented part of Twin Falls County from 1985 to 2005. An agricultural industry consultant, he also names education his top priority, followed by rebuilding the state’s transportation infrastructure and preserving the environment.

Both candidates said in the Idaho Statesman’s voter guide that they support a modified plan to expand Medicaid to cover the 78,000 state residents who can’t get health care coverage. Idaho wants to seek a federal waiver to implement a customized program, but the Legislature this session failed to agree on a plan for doing so.

DeMordaunt said the state’s commitment to fund education “needs to be serious and it needs to be sustainable.” She said recent appropriations for science, technical, engineering and math education and early childhood literacy programs are sound investments, and named passage of an improved Advanced Opportunities program this year as the type of initiative that will prompt high schoolers to pursue higher education.

Besides money for teacher raises and other programs, discretionary school funding was restored this year to 2009 levels. Jones said that level is inadequate and “should not be a point of pride.” He said the “go-on” rate for students attending college after high school could be improved with better career counseling, more loans and student aid. Lawmakers, he said, should take another look at a “tuition lock” that would hold student costs steady, in consultation with community college leaders.

“When it comes to issues such as minimum wage, the government should get out of the way and let free enterprise manage these decisions,” DeMordaunt said. Regarding federal land management — a major issue in Idaho — she cited the need for continued discussion on “who is the better manager of these lands.”

Jones said it is hypocritical for state lawmakers to complain about federal mandates but then impose state mandates on local governments. He said lawmakers “should trust the judgment of city and county leaders, who were elected by their local citizens to make sound decisions,” and said Idaho “should use caution in trying to take over more federal land.”

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

Candidates in District 14 (West Ada)

Republican primary, House Seat A:

▪  Mike Moyle, 50 (incumbent), Star: Farmer/rancher; House majority leader

▪  Michael Greenway, 26, Eagle: Student; ran for House in 2012, Congress in 2014

Republican primary, House Seat B (open seat):

▪  Gayann DeMordaunt, 50, Eagle: Serves on Ada County Republican executive board, state Public Charter School Commission

▪  Douglas Jones, 67, Meridian: Agricultural consultant; served in Legislature 1985-2005

District 14A: Greenway vs. Moyle

In the district’s other House primary, Michael Greenway describes himself as the “moderate alternative” to Mike Moyle, who stands as one of the leading anti-tax hawks in the Legislature.

Greenway said his top priority would be raising the state’s minimum wage, which is at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. He also said he wants more money for higher education to hold down tuition. He said he wants to make membership in a gang a felony, and supports Idaho seeking a federal waiver to create a customized Medicaid expansion plan.

Moyle, 51, said working to “lower our tax burden here in Idaho” is his top priority. He also cited protecting access to public lands and said he opposes their sale. Another priority is “choice in education” and ensuring education dollars “are spent with accountability.”

Regarding the Medicaid gap, Moyle said the state must “proceed with caution and find an Idaho solution.”