Friday, May 28, 2010

Voters give Stennett big primary win

3 candidates will vie for District 25 Senate seat

Express Staff Writer

Michelle Stennett

District 25 voters apparently think the Stennett name is worth keeping around. During the Tuesday, May 25, primary election, they gave Ketchum's Michelle Stennett an overwhelming win in the Democratic primary for the District 25 Senate seat.

District 25 covers Blaine, Lincoln, Camas and Gooding counties.

Stennett received 2,178 votes, 86 percent of the total, in her race against fellow Democrats David Maestas of Hagerman and Robert Blakeley of Hailey. Maestas and Blakeley received 244 and 102 votes respectively.

With her win in the primary, Stennett will face off against Republican Jim Donoval of Sun Valley and Constitution Party candidate Randall Patterson of Carey in November for the right to represent the four south-central Idaho counties.

In an interview, Stennett expressed gratitude that voters chose to send her on to the November election.

She had decided run for the seat long held by her husband, Clint Stennett, after a visit to their doctor in California in early March showed the presence of a small tumor. Clint Stennett has been fighting brain cancer—with radiation and other treatments—for the past two and a half years.

Stennett said, as she did prior to the primary election, that she'll be knocking on doors and going to numerous public events to meet with potential voters before the general election.

She said she's not assuming that people will vote for her just because of her last name.

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"I have a lot of respect for the opponents I have in the general election," she said.

In March, Clint Stennett announced his retirement from the Senate so he could continue his recovery from treatment for brain cancer. During an interview in March, Michelle Stennett said she is looking to leverage the experience she's gained during her time sitting in for her husband, as well as his continued mentoring.

The Stennetts will both be attending parades and other public events this summer.

"It's as much to honor him," Michelle said. "Clint is still the sitting senator."

Sun Valley's Jim Donoval, who describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate, believes he's got a strong chance this November. He said the 2,936 votes he received in the Republican primary—more than the number Stennett received in the Democratic primary—means plenty of voters are interested in what he's saying.

Donoval, who previously ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois Legislature, believes the vote represents a shift in District 25, which has been a traditional stronghold for Democrats.

"Although the primary was not a head-to-head contest, it's pretty clear that voters in the 25th District are moving back towards a Republican mindset, especially in relation to the economy."

Carey's Randall Patterson took over as mayor of the city last year. The owner and operator of a marketing business, he was on the Carey City Council for nearly a decade, from 1998 through 2006. He ran unopposed for mayor last November after three-term Mayor Rick Baird stepped down from the post.

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