Thursday, December 08, 2022

Incumbent Idaho Republican Gov. Little looks for 2nd term

| November 8, 2022 4:15 PM


Associated Press

BOISE — Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little's reelection campaign strategy involves ignoring his gubernatorial opponents while attacking Democratic President Joe Biden.

It's working.

The first-term governor is expected to win a reelection victory Tuesday in the deeply conservative state that he shepherded through the COVID-19 pandemic. He irritated some members of his own party with an emergency temporary shutdown to slow the spread of the illness and reduce deaths, and allowed local jurisdictions to decide on mask mandates.

But the pandemic has been followed in Idaho by a rebound to pre-pandemic low levels of unemployment and record surpluses that have resulted in big tax cuts.

Little touts those tax cuts combined with attacks on Biden's border policies and high inflation.

It's a similar strategy he used in Idaho's Republican primary, considered the election where most races are decided in a state where Republicans hold all statewide elected offices and where Republicans have supermajorities in the Legislature.

In the gubernatorial primary, Little declined to participate in any debates. He easily beat Trump-endorsed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a far-right candidate who had been campaigning for Little's job nearly her entire term. As acting governor, she grabbed headlines by issuing executive orders banning mask and vaccine mandates statewide that Little rescinded on his return.

Leading up to the general election, Little declined to take part in Idaho Debates put on by Idaho Public Television and another put on by KTVB-TV.

Little called a legislative special session in September — about a month before the general election — that resulted in a $500 million income tax rebate, an ongoing $150 million tax cut by implementing a 5.8% flat tax, and a $410 boost in education spending.

Little far exceeds his opponents in fundraising with about $1 million this year on top of the $1.2 million he had going into the election cycle.

Democratic candidate Stephen Heidt this year has raised only about $20,000, most of that loans to himself, and is notable mainly for a low-key campaign for a major-party candidate.

Independent candidate and antigovernment activist Ammon Bundy has raised about $200,000 this year. Bundy is well-known for participating in armed standoffs with law enforcement, notably at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, which left one man dead, and on federal land near his family’s ranch in Nevada in 2014.

Bundy has also been convicted twice of trespassing at the Idaho Statehouse, and for a time was banned from the building. He has said he would rely heavily on executive orders to govern.

Libertarian Paul Sand and Constitution Party nominee Chantyrose Davison are also on the ballot.

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