Jensen’s bid for superintendent comes to an end
by Kurtis Workman
Press Staff Writer
The 2014 Idaho primary election saw two races of strong interest to Power County voters. William Thomas Middle School Principal Randy Jensen was facing three opponents for Republican nomination in the race to replace retiring Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The race of note for area residents was the Democrat primary for the chance to face Republican contender Jefferson Hunt for Power County Assessor.
Jensen received strong support from his home county picking up 552 of the 723 votes cast. Statewide however Jensen came up short against Sherri Ybarra. Jensen received a total of 32,940 votes compared to Ybarra’s 38,603, a margin of only 4.2 percent.
Jensen views the results of the election as commentary about the previous administration.
“I decided to run for the office because I wanted to change the direction education was headed and I think I was not the only one that felt that way. That is why you saw so many people running for the position,” said Jensen.
For Jensen this campaign will most likely be his only foray into politics, but he said losing is not a bad thing.
“I always knew this was a win-win for me. If I won and then won the general election I would take on an exciting new challenge. If I lost I still have a great job in a great community. No matter what the outcome was I knew it would be a good thing for me and now I get to enjoy my summer,” said Jensen.
In the coming general election Jensen said he is staying away from supporting either Ybarra or Democrat Jana Jones.
“I will support whoever wins. This is an incredibly big job and whichever one wins will need the support,” said Jensen.
The Democrat primary for Power County Assessor was even closer than Jensen’s race. Only 18 votes separated Mary Annen and Donna Thornton.
Annen received 159 votes compared to Thornton’s 141. Annen was most successful in precincts one and three picking up 20 more votes from the northwestern Precinct One and 17 more votes in southern Precinct Three.
Thornton said she was impressed with the interest voters showed.
“The turnout was great. I am glad that it was a close race. I am glad to see such a large turnout that was very positive,” said Thornton.
Annen said she is looking forward to the general election in November.
“Of course I am excited by the win. It was a very close race, but now I am ready to move on to the next step,” Annen said.
Both Jensen and Annen said they suspected the confusion surrounding the closed Republican primary may have affected the results of their elections.
“I believe the closed primary confusion had a lot to do with the results. There was a lot of confusion about who could vote in which election. Voters had to make a choice between voting for Randy or voting our (assessor) race because of the closed primary,” said Annen.
“I think there were effects of the closed primary. Obviously I did well here in Power County, but I do think there were some tough decisions voters had to make even before casting their ballots,” said Jensen.
One other local race was contested in Power County at the primary level. Idaho Representative Kelley Packer of McCammon faced a challenge from Rockland resident Lance Earl. Packer received a vast majority of the support from Power County voters with 497 votes compared to Earl’s 212. District wide Packer maintained her lead grabbing the nomination with 3,112 votes as opposed to Earl’s 1,666.
In the other statewide races lacked surprises as the presumptive winners came out on top.
Representative Raul Labrador received nearly ten times more votes than his nearest competitor. Labrador will face Democrat challenger Shirley Ringo in November. Ringo was the big winner on the Democratic side gathering 81.8 percent of the vote statewide.
Senator Jim Risch received the nod to appear on the November ballot with 79.9 percent of the vote. He will campaign against Democrat Nels Mitchell. Mitchell won 69.6 percent of the Democrat vote.
Representative Mike Simpson moves on to the general election, defeating challenger Bryan Smith 48,635 votes to 30,261. Simpson will face former legislator Richard Stallings in November.
Lieutenant Governor Brad Little picked 66.8 percent of the vote over challenger Jim Chmelik. Little will face Democrat Bert Marley in November.
Four Republicans tried for the nomination in the secretary of state race. Without an incumbent in the race, sitting secretary of state Ben Ysursa announced his retirement earlier this year, the field was open. Former Idaho House Speaker Lawrence Denny gathered 37.1 percent of ballots cast. He will now face Democrat Holli Woodings.
The state treasurer race was markedly different from other state races in that the primary runoff was on the Democrat ticket. Deborah Silver will face Republican Ron Crane after Silver gathered 84 percent of the vote.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden received 83,651 votes, or 59.1 percent of the ballots cast. He will campaign against Democrat challenger Bruce Bistline.
The November general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 4. For more election information contact the Power County Clerk’s office at 226-7611.