It’s still days before candidate filing opens, but it’s becoming clear that the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate will see many new members after the 2012 elections.
Candidates and challengers can begin filing for public office on Monday.
In the Idaho House, at least 16 of the 105 representatives are retiring or planning runs for other public offices. The Senate is losing at least four of its members, though the resignation of Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, earlier this week adds to that total.
In the House, a number of legislators are leaving to seek different public offices. Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, is planning a run for Latah County commissioner, while others are vying for Senate seats. Reps. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, Cliff Bayer, R-Boise, Jeff Nesset, R-Lewiston, Bob Schaefer, R-Nampa, and Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, have all announced their intent to run for the Senate.
Of those attempting to move on to the Senate, only one appears to be facing a primary fight with an incumbent. Nesset, who the Lewiston-area GOP committee passed over in December when suggesting names to fill the seat vacated when Joe Stegner took a lobbyist post at the University of Idaho, wants the seat. Gov. Butch Otter eventually appointed Dan Johnson, who Nesset will face in the May primary.
Retiring members of the House include Reps. Sharon Block, R-Twin Falls, Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, Mack Shirley, R-Rexburg, Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, and Wendy Jaquet, D-Kethchum.
Stevenson is retiring to avoid a primary fight with either of two other key legislators. In the redistricting process, Stevenson was lumped in with House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, who serves on the budget committee.
Stevenson’s departure will mean a shakeup in lower House leadership, since he chaired the House Resources and Conservation Committee.
The Senate is set to lose at least four members to retirement. Sens. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, and Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, have all said they will not run for re-election.
Hammond is planning to apply to be North Idaho College’s next president, while Broadsword is vying to be a Bonner County commissioner.
McGee’s Wednesday departure due to allegations of sexual misconduct with a female legislative aide opens up another Senate seat.
Both legislative chambers will lose incumbents due to map changes in redistricting. In the Senate, Sen. Denton Darrington, R-Declo, will face off with Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert. Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, and Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma, could face off in the May 15 primary.
In the House, Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly, Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, and Rep. Carlos Bilbao, R-Emmett, were lumped together in redistricting.
Update: McGeachin announced Saturday via her Facebook page that she will not seek re-election this year. That move prevents a showdown between her and either Rep. Erik Simpson or Rep. Jeff Thompson, both Republicans in her Idaho Falls' district. It has been rumored that McGeachin is mulling a run for the U.S. House in Idaho's second congressional district against incumbent Mike Simpson, also a Republican. McGeachin has denied those rumors.