Idaho House speaker wins GOP lieutenant governor primary

May 18, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Powerful Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke has won the GOP primary for lieutenant governor.

The fourth-generation rancher who is considered an expert on the Idaho water issues defeated state Rep. Priscilla Giddings in a race called Wednesday following Tuesday’s primary vote.

The race was among the primary contests in Idaho featuring establishment Republicans against upstart far-right candidates. Bedke is part of the establishment while Giddings is with the far-right wing of the party.

After the win was announced, Bedke said it’s now important for Idaho Republicans to band together so ensure a win in November’s general election, for which he is the strong favorite against Democrat Terri Pickens Manweiler. A Democrat hasn’t held the lieutenant governor post in Idaho since the 1970s.

“I think if I’ve learned one thing traveling the state from north to south and east to west is the following: We have the best state in the union to live and raise a family,” Bedke said at a Statehouse GOP rally at Wednesday afternoon. “That’s where the unity starts.”

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Giddings was censured by her House colleagues late last year after publicizing the name of a 19-year-old intern who reported being raped by a House lawmaker. Former state Republican state Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger was convicted last month.

Bedke was appointed to a House seat representing south-central Idaho in 2001 by Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. Following redistricting, he won the Republican primary and general election. He ran mostly unopposed ever since.

He became speaker in 2012 by defeating then-Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is now Idaho’s outgoing secretary of state after choosing not to seek a third term.

The speaker post is among the most powerful political positions in the state. As lieutenant governor, Bedke will preside over the Senate but will only vote if ties emerge.

“It’s not a step down,” Bedke said of his move to the new post. “My vision for the lieutenant governor is to be an ambassador for the state in addition to the other delineated responsibilities.”

Republican Gov. Brad Little, who like Bedke has a ranching background, often clashed with current Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, who lost to Little in Tuesday’s primary. Little suggested that he looked forward to working with Bedke.

“Scott and I worked together on a regular basis on lots of issues, even back when he was in the House and I was in the Senate” Little said after the rally. “So we have a long history of working together.”