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Musical Chairs

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It's time for the legislative-a-go-go.

It's a complicated little dance that blends egos, power plays and partisan politics.

That's right, the two-week filing period for anyone seeking state office is in full swing, and candidates are releasing official campaign announcements and resignations at breakneck speed.

Within the last week, Sen. Mike Burkett, a three-term Boise Democrat from District 19, announced he will retire from the Senate after this session. Media outlets hardly had time to absorb this information before Boise Democrat Rep. Nicole LeFavour announced she is running for his seat.

Before the ink had even dried on LeFavour's press release, Brian Cronin, former chairman of the Ada County Democratic Party, said he would be vying for her seat. It's the same seat for which he unsuccessfully ran in the past. Cronin's run for a yet-to-be-decided seat in District 19 was first announced in last week's BW.

Not to be outdone, Dean Sorensen—former state legislator and husband of Sheila Sorensen, who lost the 2006 Republican Party primary for the First District Congressional seat to Bill Sali—announced he's running for the District 18 Senate seat currently held by Minority Caucus Chair Kate Kelly, a Boise Democrat.

Phew, take a breath, there's more.

Sen. David Langhorst, a Boise Democrat from District 16, made formal his decision to leave state government and challenge Ada County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre for his seat on the commission.

Langhorst's decision may put a new spin on fellow District 16 Democrat Rep. Margaret Henbest, who is now planning to leave the Legislature after six terms.

Her decision was announced in a backhand way in the announcement by attorney Grant Burgoyne from announcing a run for her seat. He's also the Idaho Democratic Party's national committeeman.

Democrat Rep. Les Bock will run for Langhorst's Senate seat.

Rep. Branden Durst, a first-term Boise Democrat, has drawn two Republican challengers: former lawmaker-turned-lobbyist Julie Ellsworth has filed, as has real estate agent Gail Hartnett.

This all comes just a week after BW announced that Chuck Winder will be running for office in Boise's District 14 (BW, News, "Game Time," March 5, 2008). Winder is a former Ada County Highway District commissioner who also ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Boise against Dave Bieter in 2003.

Winder has yet to formally announce which seat he will be seeking, but all evidence points to a challenge against House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, a Republican from Star.

Former Eagle mayor Nancy Merrill has also announced she will run for a seat in District 14, and it is widely speculated she will target the House seat currently held by Eagle Republican Rep. Raul Labrador.

If this happens, most political insiders believe Labrador will opt to run for the Senate seat now occupied by fellow Eagle Republican Sen. Stan Bastian.