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Don't Write Her Off

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She was in, she was out, now, she's back in—kind of.

Former Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill announced earlier this week that she's back in the race for House Majority Leader Mike Moyle's District 14 House seat. This time, though, it's as a write-in candidate.

"I had many supporters who were just so disappointed, that came to me and said, 'You can still do this,'" Merrill told BW. "It seems to be the right thing to do now."

Merrill confirmed that she is running as a Republican, meaning she will square off against Moyle in the May 27 primary.

The announcement was a surprise for Moyle, who said he spoke to Merrill just last week and she failed to mention a run for office.

"She said she was bored and looking for something to do," Moyle told BW. "[Merrill's announcement] caught me off-guard a little."

Rumors were rampant earlier in the year that Moyle would face a strong challenge from either Merrill or Chuck Winder, a former Ada County Highway District commissioner, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Boise against Dave Bieter in 2003 (BW, News, "Game Time," March 5, 2008).

Winder decided he didn't want to take on the five-term lawmaker and instead filed to run against Sen. Stan Bastian.

After much talk and speculation, Merrill dropped out of contention, citing family health concerns.

Merrill said she has a group of supporters in place with money and labor, and she's planning a 15-day blitz campaign to get the word out and educate voters on how to vote for a write-in candidate.

Merrill said she knows a write-in campaign is no small task, especially against a strong incumbent. But she believes she has better name recognition and a better organization than Moyle.

"I have a well-oiled machine of supporters that are working day and night," she said.

Merrill has a quick list of what sets her apart from her Republican opponent: No. 1, she's accessible. No. 2, she's a consensus builder. No. 3, she has 18 years experience.

Her campaign will focus on issues facing urban areas of the Treasure Valley.

"There is a feeling that we are now an urban area, and we are not having urban issues addressed," she said.

Her top issue is transportation.

Merrill said she decided to wait until the last minute to file as a write-in candidate as part of a shock-and-awe campaign.

"[I did it] as an element of surprise," she said. "It gives us a bigger focus for that period of time."

Merrill and Moyle have known each other personally for many years. Moyle calls Merrill's husband, Galan, "The nicest guy in the world," and Merrill said Moyle once dated her daughter­—but all's fair in politics.

"I know and love [Moyle's] family, but I don't feel our issues in District 14 are being taken care of, and we have to have some strong representation," she said.

For his part, Moyle said he plans to stick to his usual plan of fliers and signs in the primaries. At this time, he has no plans to take part in any candidate comparisons or debates.

"I'm planning to do what I always do," he said.

According to Idaho election law, a write-in candidate must file prior to the primary election and get at least 50 votes in order to be counted. If he or she makes it past the primary, the candidate must file again with the Secretary of State and pay a registration fee to appear on the ballot.