By Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) has defended his seat against former Republican senator Dan Foreman, who held the position from 2016 to 2018, although with a much tighter margin than in their previous contest.
Republican candidates in District 5 held large leads early in the night, until Latah County absentee ballot counts pushed Nelson ahead early Wednesday morning.
Nelson remains the only Democrat in the Legislature from North Idaho, representing one of only three split-ticket districts in the state for the upcoming legislative session. (The others: Boise’s Dist. 15, where Republican Sen. Fred Martin also held off a challenger this year, and Pocatello’s Dist. 19, where Republican Dustin Manwaring staged a comeback against Democratic Rep. Chris Abernathy). The partisan makeup of the Idaho Senate will stay the same with 28-7 Republican control.
“We’re in an unfortunate small minority and we get run over by the supermajority in Idaho a fair bit. It makes us all pretty nimble, to find places where we can work well across the aisle,” Nelson said Tuesday night. “Issues like transportation tend to be more of an urban-versus-rural issue instead of an R-versus-D issue.”
In 2016, the previous presidential election, Foreman narrowly won his race with 50.76 percent of the vote against incumbent Democratic senator Dan Schmidt’s 49.24 percent. In the 2018 midterm election, Foreman lost that seat with 43.94 percent of the vote to Nelson’s 56.06 percent.
Foreman closed that gap again this year to 49.63 percent and 50.37 percent, which Nelson attributed to Republican enthusiasm for the presidential race.
“My Benewah County results were almost exactly the same as last year, so I think I held those voters. In Latah County, I got another 1,500 votes more than I did last year,” Nelson said Wednesday. “Definitely I’m improving in the district, but the upswing in [Republican] votes was improving faster than I was, I guess.”
|David Nelson (D)||Dan Foreman (R)|
|2018||11,197 votes (56.06%)||8,777 votes (43.94%)|
|2020||12,694 votes (50.37%)||12,464 votes (49.63%)|
Republicans held on to both of the District 5 House seats, with incumbent Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy comfortably defending her seat against Democratic and Constitution Party challengers. Brandon Mitchell won the open seat currently held by freshman Rep. Bill Goesling.
“I’m sorry that my two fellow [Democratic] candidates in District 5, Dulce Kersting-Lark and Renee Love, didn’t get across the line,” said Nelson. “We all three ran really big, really good campaigns that had great staff, great voter engagement, but it just wasn’t enough this year with the big Trump wave.”
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.