As this primary election season began I decided not to do official endorsements like I have in the past. There are many organizations putting out voter guides, so many that it’s starting to become noise rather than signal. That is why I created the Primary Pulse instead. It is a one stop shop for all the information you need to make an informed decision when you go to the polls.

For most legislative races, you can’t go wrong following the voter guides put out by Idaho Freedom PAC or ConservativesOf. It’s fairly obvious who is the conservative in nearly all of these races. If you have Christy Zito, Scott Herndon, Brian Lenney, Tammy Nichols, Jacyn Gallagher, Julianne Young, Glenneda Zuiderveld, or any of the other conservative rock stars on your ballot, your choice is easy. However, there are a few quirks, and I wanted to highlight those today. I’m not going to tell you how to vote, but I’ll share my thoughts on the tougher races.

First, make sure you support your conservative PC candidates. Since the Gem State Conservatives are spending six figures to elect precinct committeemen, it’s imperative that you support actual grassroots conservatives. Lauren Walker compiled a list on Twitter of those very people, not handpicked from the top but recommended from the bottom. These PC candidates attend meetings, volunteer for events, and even spent their own time and money helping make the presidential caucus a success. They deserve your support.

Several districts have three way races in which two conservatives are challenging a moderate. You have to have something of an ego to put your name on the ballot in the first place, and in each of these cases both challengers believe he or she is the right choice and the other should have dropped out. Unfortunately, that likely means splitting the vote and allowing the moderate to win reelection.

In district 1, two conservatives are challenging Rep. Mark Sauter. I believe both Spencer Hutchings and Jane Sauter (no relation) would be an upgrade. Most of the differences between the two come down to personality as well as North Idaho political factions that are nearly incomprehensible to those outside that region. I think Hutchings is probably better prepared for the reality of legislating, but you likely can’t go wrong with either.

A similar situation exists in district 6 where Colton Bennett and Dave Dalby are challenging Rep. Lori McCann. I found both men well spoken and ideologically sound. I think Bennett is a very interesting candidate, because despite his young age he is extremely knowledgeable about the issues and conservative political philosophy and has the potential to be a generational talent in Idaho politics.

District 13 is another three way race. Rep. Kenny Wroten’s moderate to liberal voting record has attracted two challengers in Amy Henry and Steve Tanner. I was acquainted with both candidates prior to this campaign and I believe both would be an upgrade over the incumbent. I believe that Henry would be absolutely tenacious in pursuit of her platform of protecting children and families, while Tanner is a solid and well-rounded conservative and would bring experience and gravitas to the Legislature.

District 21 features both Monica McKinley and Adam Nelson challenging Rep. James Petzke, who just completed his first term. I found both to be solid on the issues and would find it hard to pick between them. Nelson, the co-owner of the Meridian Speedway, brings some real world experience and a working man’s perspective, while McKinley has been active in local politics and is knowledgeable about the issues.

District 32 features yet another three way race, with Sean Crystal and Kelly Golden challenging Rep. Stephanie Mickelsen, one of the most left-wing Republicans in our Legislature. Golden is very strong on social issues, and while I’m not entirely on board with Crystal’s agenda regarding cannabis, I found him extremely well versed in numerous issues and prepared to hit the ground running when it comes to drafting legislation. Either would be an upgrade over Mickelsen.

There are a few more three way races that don’t fit the same mold. Over in district 28, James Lamborn and Mike Savile are both challenging Rep. Rick Cheatum. I found Lamborn to be incredibly well spoken and with a deep understanding of the issues. Savile, on the other hand, is a former Democrat who has switched to Republican, apparently trying to sneak in between the conservative challenger and moderate incumbent.

District 32’s second three way race has a similar dynamic. Incumbent Rep. Wendy Horman has been challenged by Ammon mayor Sean Coletti and Idaho GOP state committeeman Bryan Smith. Coletti is a nonstarter, obviously. He’s pretty far left for a Democrat, much less a Republican. Horman has done some great things as co-chair of JFAC, but the thought of the fearlessly outspoken Smith on the House floor is tantalizing.

There are a few two way races that also have interesting implications. I’ve seen some conservatives wanting to support Marisa Keith over Rep. Jason Monks in district 22, but I think that is a mistake. From what I’ve gathered, Keith has moderate to liberal views, while Monks is solid on taxes and school choice. His Freedom Index score might not be as high as most of us would like, but I believe he is a great asset for the cause of liberty.

Up in district 7, Larry Dunn is challenging Rep. Charlie Shepherd. Having had several conversations with both men, I don’t think LD7 voters can go wrong here. Both are conservative, and while Dunn will likely get higher Freedom Index scores, Shepherd brings experience and an everyman’s perspective to the legislative process.

I suppose I can’t avoid addressing the elephant in the room, perhaps the most controversial race in the entire state:

Two years ago, Rep. Mike Moyle, then the House Majority Leader, defeated young Rachel Hazelip 56% to 44%. They appeared to have patched things up at this year’s Gem County Lincoln Day Dinner, where Moyle said she gave him quite a scare. I’ve heard conflicting stories on whether or not Hazelip was always planning a rematch, but in the end she decided to go for it, challenging the now Speaker of the House.

This race has created sharp division within Idaho conservatives. Many activists on the right have jumped on the Hazelip train. Dustin Hurst and Dominic Brandon have been outspoken in their support, while Idaho Freedom PAC and ConservativesOf have given her their endorsement.

This race has even divided the Idaho Freedom Caucus. Co-chair Rep. Heather Scott has come out in support of Moyle, which has angered some conservatives. Moyle is also supported by Attorney General Raúl Labrador, the District 10 Republican Central Committee, and CPAC, in addition to more establishment groups like IACI, the Idaho Farm Bureau, and the WinAg PAC.

We won’t go wrong with Rachel Hazelip in the Legislature. Like Colton Bennett, she is young, intelligent, and a good campaigner, and will have a long future in Idaho politics if we’re lucky. That said, there are many intangible benefits to Mike Moyle’s speakership that do not show up on any scorecard. He was instrumental in saving the new budget process after the Groundhog Day Massacre and has worked behind the scenes to pass solid legislation while at the same time allowing space for liberty legislators to fight for social issues. I trust the judgement of lawmakers such as Reps. Heather Scott, Dale Hawkins, and Josh Tanner who are publicly supporting Moyle.

If Speaker Moyle loses tomorrow, then it’s anyone’s guess who takes over the House. Perhaps a Hazelip victory would signify a conservative wave that knocks out many of the establishment veterans, but it’s possible we could end up with someone much less friendly to conservative ideas. Our country and our state are in uncharted territory, and we need strong leadership to weather the storms to come. Ranked choice voting is likely to be on the ballot this November, and we need leaders who will not be afraid to shut it down in the Legislature should it prevail.

All that said, the choice is yours. Make sure you vote tomorrow, if you haven’t already. The future belongs to those who show up, and it’s more important than ever to show up. This is Idaho’s Election Day, so make the most of it!

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