Eberlein Beats Out Competitors, Norris Enjoys 80 Percent Victory

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Senator Carl Bjerke and Representative Elaine Price easily defeat their primary challengers.

KOOTENAI COUNTY – The highly contested Republican primary races for Kootenai County Commissioner seats ended with incumbent Leslie Duncan winning a third nomination, and Marc Eberlein pulling off a 39 percent win in a four-way race. Eberlein previously served as a commissioner from 2014-2018. Both Duncan and Eberlein received the recommendation of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. 

“I am incredibly blessed by the support in this election,” said Duncan. “I know it was hard for people to distinguish truth from fiction, but I am grateful for the outstanding showing at the polls. I am looking forward to continuing my service to the citizens of Kootenai County.”

John Padula garnered 23 percent of the vote, while Bat Masterson and Dale Gibboney were under 20 percent in the primary race won by Eberlein. 

Unofficial results from the Kootenai County Elections website.

“This has been an incredible experience and I’m so grateful for all the support that we received from the community,” shared Padula. “I also want to say thank you to everybody in the community who showed up to vote, whether you supported me or another candidate, your vote matters!” Padula enjoyed endorsements from a variety of independent entities and individuals, and was able to raise more money than any of his competitors.

“The voters have spoken,” stated Gibboney who was supported by the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #43, the Coeur d’Alene Flyers, and the Fernan Rod and Gun Club.

“The people have voted; onto a new adventure,” quipped Masterson who holds an impressive resume serving his community. During a campaign interview in March he stated, “The day the election is over, I’m going to be riding horses in the mountains, one way or the other.” 

Sheriff Robert “Bob” Norris drew the highest percentage win of any contested race in the Republican primary, beating out Mike Bauer with just over 80 percent of the vote. He currently faces independent challengers in the November general election. “The Republicans of Kootenai County have spoken. I support the Idaho Republican platform and all the Republican candidates in November,” stated Norris. “I am honored to represent the Republican Party in November 2024. Let’s Make America Great Again.” His defeated opponent Bauer was quoted in the Spokesman Review saying he believes sheriff races should be nonpartisan.

Unofficial results from the Kootenai County Elections website.

Only two of twelve legislative races were contested in the Republican primary. In Legislative District 4, Dave Raglin was able to unseat the incumbent PC Stephanie Schad in precinct 409 by 26 votes, however, he was soundly defeated in his bid to replace Representative Elaine Price in the legislature. Price held onto her Republican nomination with 60 percent of the vote.

Unofficial results from the Kootenai County Elections website.
Unofficial results from the Kootenai County Elections website.

In his responses in the Republican Voter Guide, Raglin clearly supports ranked-choice voting, which many voters confuse with “open primaries.” Raglin believes party primary restrictions “not only diminish the vibrancy of our political landscape but also hinder viewpoints and ideas.” He advocates for voters to be able to select more than one candidate for a specific position and for the elimination of separate primary ballots. Ranked-choice voting places all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, onto one ballot; voters then rank them in order of preference. This style of voting involves complex computer algorithms that count and discard votes as the rounds progress until one candidate earns a majority. Those against ranked-choice voting schemes claim that States with strong Republican majorities have been targeted by progressive advocates because it is next to impossible for Democratic candidates to be elected statewide and ranked-choice voting would give them the ability to win.

Senator Carl Bjerke easily bested challenger Cheri Zao to earn his second Republican nomination, earning over 77 percent of the Legislative District 5 votes. “I am honored to have received the overwhelming support of my constituents in District 5,” stated Bjerke. “I believe this will successfully propel my campaign to victory in the general election.” He went on to say, “Our system relies on a certain amount of friction and diversity of thought to allow the best ideas to prevail, as long as the end-game is clearly adhered to; unwavering support for our Constitutional Republic form of government and the protection of individual liberties. My hope for Kootenai County, and the State, is that a clearly defined end-game will bring the Republican Party together to this greater end.”

Unofficial results from the Kootenai County Elections website.

Only 16 of 73 precincts in Kootenai County had more than 40 Democratic primary voters, with the highest turnout resulting in 69 Democratic ballots cast. These figures indicate a significant number of Democratic voters changed their party affiliation to vote in the Republican primary prior to the March 15 cutoff date. The Republican party changed their rules in an attempt to protect against crossover votes in primary elections, however, Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane stated Idaho law overrides party rules.