East Idaho legislative districts undergo shake up following primary elections

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Legislative seats across east Idaho felt quite an upheaval after Republican voters tossed out incumbent legislators in several districts in the 2018 primary elections.

Among the districts to see GOP nominations change hands include the seats previously held by Representatives Jeff Thompson, Julie Van Orden, Tom Loertscher, Ron Nate, Karey Hanks and Senator Tony Potts as political newcomers Gary Marshall, Julianne Young, Chad Christensen, Dave Lent, Doug Ricks and Rod Furniss rallied enough support to turn the nominations to their favor.

Julianne Young kicked off the newcomer wins after overcoming Representative Julie Van Orden following an aggressive campaign centered around Representative Van Orden’s recent legislative effort to change Idaho’s sex education laws.

“The issue is coming to Idaho, so we need to be informed about it,” Julianne Young told KID Newsradio during the legislative session. “You know, whether it’s HB579 or whether we make some other changes to our sex education code, we need to be informed about the environment that we live in and the things that are happening around us.”

But, Young’s campaign quickly grew to include other issues and disagreements with Representative Van Orden’s voting record.

“I’ve disagreed with a lot of things that Representative Van Orden has done in her time in office,” Young told KID Newsradio before the primary election. “I disagreed with her vote to implement Obamacare to the state health care exchange. I had concerns about her vote against the religious liberty amendment that would have exempted employers from providing abortion coverage if they had religious objections to that and I disagreed with her stance on Common Core. So, those are some of the the things that we pointed to and issues that I am definitely passionate about as well.”

Other races saw more narrow outcomes. A repeat battle for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives between Representative Ron Nate and Doug Ricks turned to Ricks’ favor after winning the seat by 159 votes on Tuesday, May 15. The same seat eluded Ricks in the last election as Representative Ron Nate won by a mere 167 votes.

“Melissa, my family and I want to thank you for the outpouring of love and support we received during our campaign,” Ricks wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “We wouldn’t have been able to win had it not been for the tireless hours many of you spent canvassing, making phone calls, and getting out the vote. Lets come together to find solutions for Southeastern Idaho. This is an exciting time in Idaho’s history and I look forward to working with Lt. Governor Brad Little, Senator Brent Hill, Britt Raybould and others in this new chapter.”

The race between Representative Tom Loertscher and Chad Christensen also ended with a narrow victory for the political newcomer by less than 150 votes. Christensen entered the political scene much like Young after finding himself at odds with his opponent over gun rights in Idaho.

I’ve watched Mr. Loertscher block the constitutional carry bill for a long time and then anything to do with the castle doctrine or House Bill 444,” Chad Christensen told KID Newsradio earlier this year. ”So, I just decided, okay, that’s enough. No way the committee chairman should have the power to stop bills from being heard. He’s stopping the voice of the people.”

Christensen now joins the ranks of people like Young who must now only clear the November general election to ensure their path to Capitol in Boise.