Early returns arriving late Tuesday evening showed Ketchum Democrat Wendy Jaquet with a growing lead in her quest to retain her position as Idaho's District 25 representative.
As of 10:45 p.m., Jaquet had 7,713 votes, or about 60 percent of the total returns. Her challenger, Gooding rancher and Republican Jeff Faulkner, was at 5,191 votes, or about 40 percent of the early returns.
The two candidates who hope to represent Idaho's District 25 House of Representatives seat come from very different backgrounds.
Jaquet, the incumbent, is a longtime resident of the resort town of Ketchum. Faulkner, the challenger, is from the more politically conservative community of Gooding, where agriculture reigns supreme.
Yesterday, voters living in the four-country district—which covers Blaine, Gooding, Camas and Lincoln counties—were tasked with choosing who should represent them in Boise during the coming two years. As of press time Tuesday, results from the District 25 race were not yet available.
During a Pizza and Politics forum at the Old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey last month, the two opponents squared off over who is better suited to represent the expansive district.
Jaquet, 65, has spent her winters in Boise since 1994, when she was first elected to the seat, and she is running for her eighth term. House minority leader since 1998, the Ketchum resident said her experience is an asset for all of District 25.
"I work very hard to represent the four counties in this district," she said.
Jaquet said she bought a fuel-efficient Toyota Prius so she can travel around her wide-ranging district more economically. She said she still has some things she wants to accomplish at the Legislature, and hopes voters will give her the chance.
"I will continue doing what I am doing," she said.
Faulkner claimed he can better represent the district and get things done because he's a member of the Republican Party, which controls 51 of 70 seats in the Idaho House.
"Like it or not, the Republicans are the majority," he said.
The 42-year-old rancher has strong ties to the state's agricultural industry, and served as the Idaho Cattle Association's president from November 2006 through November 2007.
Though Faulkner highlighted his agricultural background as a key reason why he's a good choice to represent the district, he also emphasized his ties to Blaine County. He noted that his family owns property in the county and runs sheep on federal land in the north valley.
"I think I can represent everyone in the district," he said.
Asked what her legislative priorities would be should she win, Jaquet mentioned education, infrastructure projects like roads and bridges, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Faulkner named water, education and unchecked urbanization.