Years ago, then Idaho State Senator challenged incumbent Governor Butch Otter. The governor sought a third term as one of the most popular Republican governors in the country. Despite his success, many Idaho Republicans grew tired of the popular governor. The term 'Otter Fatigue' permeated Idaho's well-known elite political circles.

Despite being outspent, Russ Fulcher won Idaho's three most populous counties. The governor would prevail. However, Mr. Fulcher kept working to run again in four years. The theory was that Idaho's old political guard would be replaced and outvoted by a wave of new Conservative folks moving to the Gem State. 

Mr. Fulcher's 2018 prediction was six years too early. Idaho has become a magnet for conservative political refugees who've left their progressive home states of Washington, Oregon, and California. This year's primary saw the end of conventional political wisdom in Idaho. 

YouTube/Idaho Public Television
YouTube/Idaho Public Television

Candidates financed by big money were voted out of office. The Idaho Capital Sun reported that fifteen incumbents who sought reelection were rejected. Another factor that helped Conservative candidates was the influence of out-of-issue money. If an Idaho politician favors an issue, sometimes an out-of-state group will fund materials supporting that candidate and their positions. 

The next big question will be how the next two years will play out politically in the state. In 2026, everyone, including the governor, is up for reelection. In 2018, Idaho was off the political radar. Today, out-of-state money has begun to invest in Idaho and its political operatives. One day, we'll look back at the money spent in 2024 as the good old days.

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