Election 2012: Idaho GOP Licks Wounds Over Defeats of Romney, Luna Laws

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Idaho Republicans had a bittersweet Election Night.

While watching the election returns slowly confirm that the GOP still had a firm grip on both houses of the Idaho Legislature, party leaders took a slow burn while watching President Barack Obama claim victory, in spite of boatloads of cash donations coming from Idaho to fuel GOP challenger Mitt Romney's unsuccessful effort.

In fact, Idaho's Republican elite, which helped craft the so-called Luna Laws, also watched statewide voters thumb their collective noses at the reforms, upending a "vote yes" campaign led by Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Otter's wife, Lori, who likened the reforms to "a three legged stool." By early Wednesday morning, it became evident that Luna and the Otters didn't have a leg to sit on, let alone a stool.

Idaho voters said "no" to each of three propositions: No. 1, which limited teachers' bargaining rights; No. 2, which instituted new bonus structures for educators, and No. 3, which would have required putting laptops in the hands of more Gem State students.

Idaho newspapers, television and radio airwaves were clogged for months with political ads, intending to push or pull Idahoans on the Luna Laws.

Clearly seeing imminent defeat, Lori Otter didn't couch her displeasure Tuesday night.

"I think the opponents of the measures were intellectually and emotionally dishonest," said Otter.

But Mike Lanza, chair of the campaign to defeat the measures, sized up the vote Tuesday night by simply saying, "The public doesn't like these laws."

Luna, who appeared physically exhausted Tuesday night admitted that he needed "to talk take a break" from the issue.

"We need to take a step back," said Luna.

But in short order, Luna, the Otters and the 2013 edition of the Idaho Legislature will need to decide how best to serve the wishes of an electorate that wasn't happy with the reforms.

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