Saturday, May 12, 2012

Primary Preview: Citydesk Meets the Candidates

Posted By on Sat, May 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Tuesday's Primary Day is expected to be a volatile affair. With new rules and new polling places, there's a better-than-average chance of confusion as voters face a closed GOP ballot - only registered Republicans will be allowed to vote the Republican ballot - and Ada County overhauling its polling locations for the first time in 30 years.

And there are hundreds of different ballots throughout the Treasure Valley, a different ticket for each party in each precinct. In Ada and Canyon counties alone, there are 28 contested legislative races across scores of precincts.

By all indications, voter engagement is already running higher than normal. Officials at the Ada County Board of Elections confirmed that as of midday Friday, close to 5,000 early ballots had already been cast - 1,000 more than 2010 and nearly 500 more than 2008, during the same early-voting time period. Early-voting GOP ballots have outnumbered Democratic ballots in Ada County thus far, by more than a 3-1 margin.

On Sunday, Citydesk will profile a select number of races:

The Idaho Panhandle Legislative District 2 promises to be an interesting runoff as four-term Republican Rep. Phil Hart is facing no fewer than three challengers from his own party.

In West Boise, census-driven redistricting opened up District 15 so that Steve Berch, who ran unsuccessfully in District 14 two years ago, this year is running unopposed in 15's Democratic primary, awaiting his challenger to be decided in the GOP runoff between Curtis Ellis and Mark Patterson.

In South Boise, former Democratic Sen. Branden Durst is anxious to run again for the District 18 State Senate seat against incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch Toryanksi, who edged Durst two years ago by just more than 100 votes. But first, Durst faces opposition within his own party in Tuesday's primary race. Matthew Duncan told Citydesk that he's been knocking on thousands of doors in South Boise to gain greater name recognition.

District 20 may be the most unique race in the Treasure Valley. Democrat James Mace is looking for 50 write-in votes so that he can make it onto the November ballot to in order to face incumbent Republican Sen. Chuck Winder. But a write-in is doubly challenging this year because of new, complex voting instructions.

Look for our primary previews on Citydesk beginning Sunday. And come Tuesday night, we'll have reporters spread out across Idaho to bring you alternative social-media-driven coverage of all the madness.

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