Idaho Republicans are poised to retain their legislative supermajority in 2023 after winning or leading in 86 of the state’s 105 legislative races in this year’s general election, according to partial, unofficial results released by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office early Wednesday.
For the past two years, the GOP also controlled 86 of the 105 seats in the Idaho Legislature.
Assuming results hold, there will be 28 Republicans and seven Democrats in the Idaho Senate in 2023, just as there has been for the past two years.
If Idaho House results hold, Republicans will hold 58 seats compared to 12 for the Democrats, just as there has been for the past two years.
Even before a single vote was cast, Republicans were guaranteed to retain at least a simple majority in the Idaho Legislature because Democrats did not run candidates in dozens of races across the state.
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There were a handful of notable results Tuesday.
- Republicans picked up a seat from the Democrats in District 6, where former Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Viola, defeated incumbent Democratic Sen. David Nelson, D-Moscow. Unofficial election results released by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office show Foreman won 9,518 votes, or 54% of the votes, in the race. Nelson won 7,555 votes, or about 43% of the vote. Constitution Party candidate James Hartley rounded out the field, earning 369 votes, or about 2% of the vote.
- Democrats gained a legislative seat in west Boise’s tight District 15 Idaho Senate race. Unofficial election results show Democrat Rick Just, D-Boise, won with 9,193 votes, or 50%, against Republican Rep. Codi Galloway, R-Boise, who had 8,866 votes, or 48%. Constitution Party candidate Sarah Clendenon also ran in that race, winning 413 votes, or about 2%. The seat was previously held by Republican Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise, who Galloway defeated in the GOP primary election.
- Democrats retained all three seats they held in central Idaho’s District 26, which was reconfigured during the 2021 redistricting process. Although Democrats held on to all three District 26 seats, they knocked off incumbent Republican Rep. Laurie Lickely, R-Jerome, who was moved out of the old District 25 into District 26 through redistricting. Unofficial election results show that for the District 26 Idaho Senate race, Democrat Ron C. Taylor, D-Hailey, won 7,246 votes, or 66%, compared to Lickely’s 3,743 votes, or 34%. Retiring Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, previously held the District 26 Idaho Senate seat.
Republicans have controlled a supermajority in both chambers of the Idaho Legislature since 1993. In 1991 and 1992, the balance of power in the Idaho Senate was evenly split with 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats each holding seats before the number of seats in the Idaho Senate was fixed at 35 starting in 1993.
What to expect when the Idaho Legislature begins 2023 session in January
Overall, there are widespread changes coming to the Idaho Legislature in 2023. More than 40 of the 105 seats will be held by new legislators who did not serve in the Idaho Legislature in 2022. The historic turnover is the result of the 2021 redistricting process colliding with legislative retirements, a May primary election that saw 19 incumbent Republican legislators lose their seats to new Republican challengers and a few seats changing hands in this week’s election.
That turnover will lead to major changes for the 2023 Idaho Legislature, where at least 11 of the 20 members of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee will be new, the speaker of the Idaho House will be new for the first time in 10 years and the chairpersons of several important committees will be new, including the House and Senate Health and Welfare committees, the Senate Education Committee, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and the House Judiciary Rules and Administration Committee.
Legislators will elect new members of their leadership team, including the speaker of the Idaho House, who will then make committee assignments during an organizational session of the Idaho Legislature that will take place next month at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.
Idaho election results will not become official until after the Idaho State Board of Canvassers conducts the canvases and certification of election results. The deadline for the Idaho State Board of Canvassers to meet and certify election results is Nov. 23.
All Idaho legislators are elected to two-year terms. All 105 seats in the Idaho Legislature will be up for election again in 2024, which is also a presidential election year.
The 2023 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 9 with Gov. Brad Little’s State of the State address.
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