By DEVIN WEEKS
Incumbent Rep. Vito Barbieri was feeling good on Wednesday following his Legislative District 2 midterm election victory over Democratic opponent Maria Andrews.
Barbieri, of Dalton Gardens, received 14,976 of the 20,701 votes cast for Idaho House Seat A, according to unofficial Kootenai County elections results posted at 4:49 a.m. Wednesday.
“There’s something reaffirming about getting more than 70 percent,” Barbieri said.
He gave the makeup of his district much of the credit.
“The Democratic rhetoric doesn’t ring quite as true in my district as it does in others,” he said. “I appreciate all the support. That gives me a lot of leeway in Boise to act within the conservative worldview. I am indeed honored.”
Barbieri said he plans to focus on the “nuts and bolts of the legislature” as he enters his fifth term representing District 2, putting his energy toward policies that examine the rules and regulations of the Constitution.
On Tuesday’s election, he said he wasn’t too surprised by how everything turned out.
“Everything seemed to go as expected,” he said. “Some of the other races in the south, I was disappointed some of the other Republicans won’t be returning. We lost some good people.”
Barbieri said he’s looking forward to working in Boise with John Green, who won the race for Idaho Legislative District 2 Seat B, and Sen. Steve Vick, both of whom received higher than 72 percent of the vote in their respective races.
“It’s nice to know we’re well thought of in the district,” Barbieri said. “We’re going to go down there and work as a team.”
He said it’s interesting that every election seems to be more important than the last.
“I always thought it was trite that I would hear people say, and I think myself, that ‘This is the most important election,’” he said. “As we go on, I do believe the stakes do continue to get higher and higher, and with the polarization between the two ideologies that are struggling for dominance here in America, it’s interesting to look at that and realize the importance of every election.”
Andrews, of Harrison, said she also wasn’t surprised about the election results.
“I know that it’s a deeply conservative district and state,” said the first-time legislative candidate, adding that this election gave her encouragement because of the number of votes she received — 5,725. She said that showed her people were willing to split their tickets and consider what they were voting for.
“I thought it was fantastic to see that many people come out,” she said. “Of course Republicans won, but you look at Districts 4 and 3, it wasn’t a shabby turnout. People were really stepping up to put their vote out there.”
Andrews said she wishes Barbieri “all the best.”
“He has a passion and believes strongly in how he makes decisions, which is very cool,” she said. “I just really hope he can listen to all the people in the district so he’s not just following the Republican platform but really what’s best for all Idahoans.”
Andrews is uncertain if she will run for office in the future but said she will “if I feel strongly enough about it and God puts it on my heart that I do it.”
“I’m always an optimist,” she said. “I always believe that the best will come of situations. We just have to continue to be watchful and to stand against anything that is not for all the people.”
Sen. Steve Vick is also celebrating a re-election for his fifth term. He received nearly 73 percent of the vote to defeat Democrat Dale Broadsword of Rathdrum and Libertarian Shon Luoma of Bayview.
“I’m always grateful to get re-elected,” Vick said.
He said by and large, this election didn’t change things too significantly in Idaho, and “I think that’s a good thing.”
“I think the state’s been run pretty well, and I think that will continue,” he said.
Vick said he wants to convey his gratitude to his constituents and those for voted for him.
“My goal is to keep Idaho a place where we respect people’s individual freedom and keep regulations and taxes low,” he said.
Broadsword, who received 5,131 votes, said he is “not too happy about the outcome” of the election. He said he thought Cory English and Rebecca Schroeder were sure to win their races because of all the work they put into them.
“It really surprised me that the general public seemed to vote strictly party line and not for the people,” he said. “Several people I knew told me that if I had an R behind my name instead of a D, they would vote for me.
“The other one that surprised me was Kristin Collum, that she had lost,” he said. “She was a fantastic candidate for lieutenant governor, with her background, being a conservative person. It just surprised me that she had lost, it really did.”
Broadsword said this election was an eye-opening one. He said he will be keeping a good eye on what goes on with the Legislature in the years to come.
“I will see how things go,” he said. “I’m hoping to run again in two years.”
Luoma said he had no sorrow or bad feelings about his voter turnout in this election. He received 491 votes.
He enjoyed his first experience running for public office and said he plans to continue to be active in his community. He said he would like to do more public speaking and call people together ahead of elections in 2019 and 2020.
“It was really enlightening for me. I’m learning a lot and nothing bad can come from the involvement I’ve had. It’s all about service to the people, and I’m happy with the election results,” he said. “The public spoke. We did what our duty is and that’s to vote, and the people did.”
John Green won House Seat B with 15,313 votes to Democrat Alanna Brooks’ 5,075 votes. Neither Green nor Brooks returned phone calls and emails for comment by press time.
By RALPH BARTHOLDT
Tony Wisniewski spent the day after the midterm elections picking up campaign signs well before the county deadline.
It’s an indication of his work ethic.
“I won’t wait for a deadline,” Wisniewski said. “I like to get things done as early as possible and as early as practical.”
The Post Falls Republican was elected Tuesday to Idaho House of Representatives District 3 Seat B by defeating Democrat Dan Hanks by a margin of 71 percent to 29 percent.
A resident of Post Falls for more than 20 years, Wisniewski thanked Hanks for running a clean campaign and said he planned to take a vacation before setting future priorities in order.
Despite running in a strongly red district, Wisniewski was surprised he carried the votes by such a hefty margin. Most incumbents posted similar margins.
“I was surprised at the numbers,” he said. “I was satisfied with it.”
Wisniewski said he campaigned hard to earn voters’ confidence. He said the core issues that made the foundation of his campaign — school choice, more technical education opportunities for students who don’t plan to go to college, and Republican values including his stance as pro-life, Second Amendment rights and limiting regulations to bolster economic growth — remain on his short list.
District 3 Seat B was vacated by Rep. Don Cheatham, R-Post Falls, who was elected Tuesday to the District 3 Idaho Senate position.
Wisniewski has served for several years on a regional educational advisory committee that melds industry with school district academic, vocational and technical training programs. He has also served as chairman in the local chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
Cheatham said he wanted to ensure his district was represented in both the House and Senate when he chose to run in place of Bob Nonini for the District 3 Senate seat.
Nonini got out of the race earlier this year, then lost his bid in the primary for lieutenant governor.
Cheatham said his margin of victory — he won handily, earning 72 percent of the votes as opposed to his opponent, Democrat Patrick Lippert’s, 28 percent — lined up with the percentage of other North Idaho Republican senators elected in Tuesday’s midterms.
State Sen. Steve Vick of District 2 earned 73 percent of the votes, Sen. Jim Woodman of District 1 earned 75 percent while Sens. Mary Souza and David Nelson, representing districts 4 and 5, earned around 58 percent of the vote.
“We’ll have good representation in the committees of the Senate,” Cheatham said.
Cheatham said he would like to find a slot on the Senate’s Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee, a panel he served on in the House where he spent two terms before being elected to the Senate this week.
“I’m just excited to be anywhere where they need me,” he said.
Cheatham, whose background includes the Air Force, law enforcement and work in the Homeland Security Administration, said learning how things are done in the Senate will be part of his next challenge.
He anticipates working across the aisle as he did last session when a House bill he co-sponsored with a Democrat to raise jury pay became law this year.
“I’m more of an issue than a party person,” he said.
He anticipates working for veteran groups, which is a large part of his constituency, he said.
“We have so many veterans, I will look for opportunities to help them with career or technical education training,” he said.
By JUDD WILSON
Momentum generated by Proposition 2 and the historic candidacy of Paulette Jordan was not enough to push Democrats into the legislative District 4 winner’s circle.
Though Democratic candidates made gains over the last election cycle, Republicans retained all three of District 4’s seats in the Legislature with an average margin of victory of 18 percentage points.
Political newcomer Jim Addis succeeded in his bid to keep outgoing state Rep. Luke Malek’s District 4A seat in Republican hands. He staved off hard-charging Democratic candidate Rebecca Schroeder in the district’s closest race, 10,403 to 7,945. Schroeder congratulated her opponent and said, “I am proud of the campaign we ran, and deeply grateful to the many individuals who invested their time and energy to this election cycle. We are celebrating the hard-fought passage of Prop 2 today, which represents a victory for all Idahoans.”
Addis was complimentary toward Schroeder.
“The results of this race show the power of positive campaigning and promoting a better future for Idaho,” he said. “I’d like to thank my opponent and her supporters for their efforts in this race. I want you to know that the trust [voters] put in me will not be taken lightly.”
Addis pledged every day to “do all I can to keep Idaho Strong!”
Rep. Paul Amador won re-election to the state House with a victory over Democratic young gun Shem Hanks, 11,431 to 6,834. Amador credited his campaign’s success “to the many people in our community who committed their time, efforts, and resources to support my candidacy over the past two years.”
Amador paid tribute to Hanks, who also serves as chairman of the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee, for his willingness to serve. Looking forward, Amador said, “Regardless of who you voted for in this election, I promise to the community that I will be open and transparent, will listen to the concerns of everyone, and will strive to make decisions that benefit our state.”
Hanks congratulated Amador on his win and reciprocated the same respect his opponent had tendered.
“I respect all of the candidates who won their races in District 4 and hope that our community will continue to have civil political discourse,” he said.
Hanks said he was pleased with voter turnout and the success of Proposition 2.
“I was happy that the Democratic candidates were able to move the needle forward from where we were in 2016,” he said.
Incumbent Sen. Mary Souza fended off a challenge from Cory Jane English, 10,579 to 7,749.
“Thank you Coeur d’Alene. I’m honored by the support and votes from District 4 yesterday, and look forward to serving you again in the Legislature,” she said. “We have important issues to consider and I will do my best to represent our community values as we plan budgets, discuss impacts, and work to move Idaho forward.”
Souza said English had waged a negative campaign that backfired.
“I believe the people of District 4 are looking for solutions, so my focus stayed on accomplishments and positive plans for our future,” she said.
English said that although the outcome of her race was disappointing, she was satisfied that the efforts of Democratic volunteers earned approval for Proposition 2.
“By being in this campaign, we were able to show our values and commitment to the community, advocating for better education, health care, wages and protection of public lands. So no regrets!” she said.
English congratulated Souza and added, “Thank you, Mary for your commitment to following the will of the people on Prop 2.”
Proposition 2 won Kootenai County voters’ approval by a narrow margin, 28,374 to 27,875, but passed statewide with nearly 61 percent of the vote, 364,861 to 237,276.