Idaho businessman Walt Minnick, a conservative Democrat, has snatched a Republican House seat from Idaho Rep. Bill Sali, according to the state’s now complete, but unofficial vote totals.
Minnick declared victory at 11:15 Wednesday morning.
“Most importantly I would like to thank the thousands of Idahoans, Republicans, independents, who chose to look at this campaign from the standpoint of who could be more effective for Idaho and to cross party lines and to do something that is rare in Idaho: elect someone who’s party affiliation was other than Republican,” Minnick told the TV cameras at a gathering outside the Idaho Historical Museum.
Minnick counted 175,567 votes to Sali’s 171,324, a 51-49 margin, after the last remaining Idaho precincts reported totals to the Secretary of State early this afternoon.
Sali said at a 12:30 p.m. GOP press conference on the steps of the Idaho State Capitol Annex that the counting was not done and he did not concede the election.
“There’s a process that needs to play out and we’re anxious to make sure that every ballot gets counted, that they’re all counted correctly make sure that we come up with the right result for the election,” Sali said.
But at the same press conference, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo offered his congratulations to Minnick and pledged to work across the isle with Idaho’s newest congressman.
“As Walt and I talked… we can work across party lines, and our delegation whether it be our national delegation or those who serve here in the state are going to be focused on good government and on making sure that we eliminate from the political scene to the best of our ability the kind of harsh, bitter personal and partisan politics that have taken such a dominant focus in our national election climate these days,” Crapo said.
Minnick also said he had spoken with Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson Wednesday morning and planned to meet with him soon.
“He and I are going to get together, hopefully in the next few days and talk about how we can forge a bipartisan team that will allow us to work with Republicans work with Democrats, work with the new Democratic administration and come up with common sense solutions to problems that will be in the best interest of the country and helpful to Idaho,” Minnick said of Simpson.
Minnick is Idaho’s first Democratic congressman to be elected since Larry LaRocco’s final term in 1992.