- Kelsey Hawes
When the 2017 edition of the Idaho Legislature convenes in January, there will be 88 Republican House Representatives versus 17 Democratic House Representatives, only one of them from northern Idaho: Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer). Over in the Idaho Senate, there will 29 GOP Senators versus 6 Democratic Senators.
The biggest upsets of Election Night came in north-central Idaho, where House Minority Leader John Rusche (D- Lewiston) was defeated by Republican challenger Michael Kingsley. Tuesday's election was a repeat of the candidates' 2014 contest, in which Rusche won by 48 votes. This year, Kingsley secured an easy victory with a nearly 3,000-vote margin.
Also in the 6th Legislative District, Republican Thyra Stevenson regained the House seat she lost in 2014 to Democrat Dan Rudolph, who decided not to run for re-election. Stevenson defeated her latest Democratic challenger, Bob Blakey, by a 2,447 vote margin.
In the 5th Legislative District, covering Latah and Benewah counties, Sen. Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow) lost his seat to Republican challenger Dan Foreman by a 327-vote margin.
In eastern Idaho, Democrats lost another House seat when the post currently held by Rep. Mark Nye (D-Pocatello) was claimed by Republican Dustin Manwaring, who beat Democratic challenger David Maguire. Nye was successful in his race for the District 29 Idaho Senate race, defeating Republican Tom Katsilometes. Nye's victory is a zero-gain for Democrats in the Senate because he fills the seat of retiring Sen. Roy Lacey (D-Pocatello).
In central Idaho's closely watched Legislative District 26, Democrat Sally Toone was successful, defeating Democrat Alex Sutter by 1,491 votes in a race for the open seat vacated by outgoing Rep. Donna Pence (D-Gooding), And incumbent GOP Rep. Steve Miller (R-Fairfield) held back a challenge from Democrat Kathleen Eder by 264 votes. Idaho Senate Minority Leader Sen. Michelle Stennett survived a close contest from Republican challenger Dale Ewersen. District 26 is one of Idaho's few regions that includes both Democrats and Republicans in its Statehouse delegation.
In the Treasure Valley, all incumbents were successful in their respective House and Senate races, but the most anticipated contest was in Legislative District 15, where Rep. Lynn Luker (R-Boise) held off a challenge from Democrat Steve Berch by 293 votes.
Finally, in the Idaho Panhandle, Legislative District 1 saw Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) easily defeat Democratic challenger Kate McAlister. Republican incumbents Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) and Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint) also coasted to victory.