- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Gem State voters will return to the polls this November. Here are five things to keep in mind as the general election approaches:


The majority of Idaho’s most fiercely contested races were determined in the GOP primary election. However, in Gov. Butch Otter’s run for a third term, he’s facing serious opposition from Democrat A.J. Balukoff. Balukoff has criticized Otter on his education policy and has spent hundreds of thousands on campaign ads pinpointing the governor’s failures. Another closely-watched race is for state superintendent of schools. With incumbent Tom Luna deciding against running for another term, political newcomer Sherri Ybarra is running a modest campaign as the Republican candidate. Her opponent, Jana Jones, comes with strong name recognition after barely losing to Luna in 2006.


Ybarra has expanded her campaign footprint since winning the May GOP primary by spending less than $3,000 and rarely traveling outside her small hometown in southwest Idaho. She’s reaching out to voters across the state in a low-key, personal campaign, describing herself as a “non-politician.” Both Republicans and Democrats say her approach may not be enough to beat the name recognition Jones has built up - even in a GOP-dominated state.


Tea party voters are still frustrated with incumbent Republicans such as Otter, who they view as not being conservative enough. Now the question is whether they’ll show up in November to vote for the Republican candidates after being unhappy with the incumbents for so long.


Idaho Democrats have lined up high-quality candidates in several key races. However, the last time a Democrat held a statewide seat was in 2006, and the party hasn’t sent a candidate to Congress since 2008.


Former Olympic champion Dick Fosbury, a Democrat, is challenging state GOP Rep. Steve Miller of Fairfield for his legislative district in central Idaho, which includes the posh resort cities of Sun Valley and Ketchum, as well as rural farm areas in southern Blaine County. Fosbury -known for revolutionizing the high jump- is now hoping to clear a different kind of bar in his district.

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