Activist state

Republican incumbent Idaho governor Little seeks second term

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In this undated handout provided by Stephen Heidt for the gubernatorial campaign, shows Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stephen Heidt challenging incumbent Republican Governor Brad Little in the November 8, 2022 election. (Michelle Vincent/Stephen Heidt for the governor’s campaign via AP)

PA

Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s re-election campaign strategy is to ignore his gubernatorial opponents while attacking Democratic President Joe Biden.

That works.

The first-term governor is expected to score a re-election victory on Tuesday in the deeply conservative state he led during the COVID-19 pandemic. He angered some members of his own party with an emergency temporary shutdown to slow the spread of the disease and reduce deaths, and allowed local jurisdictions to decide mask mandates.

But the pandemic was followed in Idaho by a rebound to pre-pandemic low levels of unemployment and record surpluses that prompted deep tax cuts.

Little touts these 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 every elected office nationwide. state and where Republicans have supermajorities in the Legislative Assembly.

During the gubernatorial primary, Little declined to participate in debates. He easily beat Trump-backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a far-right candidate who had campaigned for Little’s job for most of her term. As acting governor, she made headlines by issuing executive orders banning statewide mask and vaccine mandates that Little rescinded upon her return.

Prior to the general election, Little declined to participate in the Idaho debates hosted by Idaho Public Television and another hosted by KTVB-TV.

Little called a special legislative session in September – about a month before the general election – which resulted in a $500 million income tax refund, an ongoing $150 million tax cut by putting implemented a 5.8% flat tax and a $410 increase in education spending.

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

Democratic candidate Stephen Heidt has raised only about $20,000 this year, most of those loans to himself, and stands out primarily for a low-key campaign for a major-party candidate.

Independent candidate and anti-government campaigner Ammon Bundy has raised around $200,000 this year. Bundy is well known for participating in armed confrontations with law enforcement, including at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, which left one person dead, and on federal land near his family’s ranch in Nevada in 2014.

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

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

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