Ron Nate: Idaho’s 2024 Primary Elections Were Historic

Op-Ed by Dr. Ron Nate, President of Idaho Freedom Foundation

Idaho’s 2024 primary elections last night were historic.

By most estimates, freedom picked up 2 seats in the Senate and 6 seats in the House. It was a good night for friends of liberty and a bad night for establishment good-old-boys.

November elections will determine a few more outcomes, but the results from Tuesday — piled on top of the 2022 gains — are promising, indeed. Even the leader of the Senate, Pro Tem Chuck Winder, lost to primary challenger Josh Keyser.


Most will analyze the results in terms of potential leadership battles and party-composition in both chambers, but let’s take a look in terms of issues and possibilities.

School choice:

If you’re supportive of allowing money to follow children to their best education possibilities, the primary election will not disappoint. Key opponents to school choice lost their reelection bids: Sens. Winder, Hartgen, Schroeder, and Reps. Yamamoto, Bundy, Wroten, and Durrant. In their places are strong conservatives who value the best education choices possible.

Budget hawks:

Unfortunately, the biggest spenders in the legislature mostly kept themselves safe. Idaho’s Rubber Stamp Caucus (those who vote the most spending increases), all won reelection or were not challenged. In fact, only one of the biggest spenders in either chamber was sent packing, Sen. Hartgen from District 25.

The woke agenda:

Some of the most ardent defenders of wokeism, DEI, and the LGBTQ agenda lost to Republican challengers in the primary. Representatives Bundy, Yamamoto, and Wroten all had horrible records on the library bills, DEI spending, and on the transgender mutilation bill (Bundy). They all lost re-election. The same held in the Senate with Hartgen, Schroeder, and Winder all losing. Senator Lee’s empty seat will be filled by a new conservative, Brandon Shippy.


Idaho Launch was our progressive governor’s flagship program to reward his biggest corporate cronies under the guise of education support. It provides free training for “in-demand” careers and it directs state tax dollars toward the governor’s preferred support base. Some of the strongest supporters of the Launch program all lost on Tuesday: Representatives. Blanksma, Bundy, Durrant, Lanting, Wroten, and Yamamoto, plus Senators Hartgen, Schroeder, and Winder.

Hopefully, with new conservative blood in the Legislature, we can reverse Idaho’s Biden-esque job training program and devote our efforts to what families really need: tax relief.


It’s hard to evaluate tax policy for this election because the only tax relief we’ve seen in the last two years has been tied (unconstitutionally) to big-government bills like Idaho Launch and this year’s school facilities bill (H521). The schools bill provides only $60 million of tax relief ongoing but allows for over $2 billion in facilities bonding (i.e. taxes) over 10 to 20 years.

The prospects for grocery tax repeal got a boost though. Main Street Caucus opponents to repeal did not fare well and the new nominees in both chambers are mostly supportive. More importantly, the change in leadership in the Senate (Winder losing) and the increased conservative voices in the House make it more difficult for soft leaders to keep the bill in a drawer. Expect a push for grocery tax repeal to immediately help families cope with Biden inflation.

Going forward:

The primaries were historic and positive, but there are still some scores to settle. November’s general elections will decide some key races in the Senate (Foreman, Lickley, and Galloway), which could tip the scales for leadership elections. Also, the House has some important general contests including Price, McCann, Mitchell, Nelson, Manwaring, and Roberts. We will watch what happens next and be ready for some good outcomes.

In all, 16 Republican incumbents lost reelection bids. Eleven of them had scores in the F range on the Idaho Freedom Index. Only three Republicans who lost reelection had scores in the A range.

Idaho has spoken; it wants freedom legislators in office to match their freedom values.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation is excited about the primary election results and what they mean for expanding freedom, protecting rights, limiting government, and lowering taxes. We have important work yet to do, and we will count on the support of our partners in our efforts

Please consider supporting the IFF with a donation of $20.24, or $202.40, or even $2024. Every dollar helps advance the cause of freedom and oppose the statists working against Idaho families. Let’s go!!

In liberty, and with a firm reliance on our Creator,

Dr. Ron Nate
Idaho Freedom Foundation


This story was originally sent by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and is reprinted with permission. 

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