Idaho Reports analysis: Rural conservatives see some of Tuesday’s biggest wins

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

One indicator of how well a lawmaker represents their constituents: How comfortably they won a challenged race. 

I took a look at legislative candidates who won with highest percentage of votes in R vs D races. I skipped races with only independent and third party challengers, as those candidates generally drew a fairly low percentage of the votes.

Most of the people on this list are incumbents, though Matthew Bundy won a race for an open seat in Dist. 23 with 79 percent of the vote. Bundy first ran for the legislature in 2012. (All of the Republicans in 23 won with at least 74 percent of the vote.)

Almost no one on this list, except for Sen. Lori Den Hartog, is from Ada County. And nearly everyone is from rural areas of the state.

Another note: Most of these lawmakers are very conservative Republicans, and many have been vocally critical of Gov. Brad Little’s COVID-19 response or measures put in place by their local health districts, school districts, or city governments. There is plenty of speculation about potential primary challenges to Little in 2022. I’m not sure how well support for these lawmakers correlates to trouble for Little in a year and a half — Republican primary results this far into the pandemic would be a better measure — but these constituents certainly aren’t unhappy with this group of liberty lawmakers. 

One final caveat. The people on this list won challenged races. A number of incoming lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, had no general election challengers at all. 

Here’s the list of people who won challenged R vs D races with more than 74 percent of the vote:

Sen. Jim Woodward, Dist. 1, 77.4 percent

Rep. Ron Mendive, Dist. 3, 76.9 percent

Rep. Tony Wisniewski, Dist. 3, 75.7 percent

Rep. Judy Boyle, Dist. 9, 78.3 percent

Rep. Scott Syme, Dist. 11, 80.5

Rep. Tammy Nichols, Dist. 11, 79.8

Sen. Lori Den Hartog, Dist. 22, 74.25

Senator-elect Rep. Christy Zito, Dist. 23, 76.28

Representative-elect Matthew Bundy, Dist. 23, 79.16

Rep. Megan Blanksma, Dist. 23, 74.54

Rep. Chad Christensen, Dist. 32, 75.11

Click here for full results.

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