BOISE, Idaho – U.S. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who is vacating his congressional seat to run for governor, cruised past two challengers Tuesday in the gubernatorial Republican primary.
On the Democratic ballot, newspaper owner Jerry Brady also easily beat his opponent.
Otter had 69 percent of the vote with 377 of 915 precincts reporting. His closest competitor, Pocatello businessman Dan Adamson, garnered nearly 22 percent of the vote.
Brady, president of the Idaho Falls newspaper the Post Register, won with nearly 84 percent of the vote, compared with 16 percent for Lee Chaney Sr., who never actively campaigned.
"I'm eager to engage Congressman Otter and give Idaho a real look at the issues," Brady said at the Democrats' primary celebration in Boise. "I'm eager to start the main event."
Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, a Republican, is Idaho's acting governor but is not running for the state's top office.
Otter was Idaho's lieutenant governor for 14 years before going to Congress. In his first term there, he was one of just three Republicans to vote against the Patriot Act in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
The race for the congressional seat being vacated by Otter generated the most interest. One candidate, Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez, once sought to have his county declared a disaster area because of an influx of illegal immigrants.
Despite the attention, anti-tax advocate and state Rep. Bill Sali won the Republican nomination. Sali had more than 26 percent of the vote.
He will face former business executive Larry Grant, who easily bested Cecil Kelly, a small-business owner in the resort community of Coeur d'Alene.
In the nation's only other primary, former Clinton administration official Bill Halter faced three Democratic opponents in the lieutenant governor's race in Arkansas. With 73 percent of precincts reporting, Halter had 39 percent of the vote, securing a runoff spot. His opponent was unclear. State Sen. Tim Wooldridge had 27 percent and former state Rep. Mike Hathorn 25 percent.
Halter, who was deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration under President Clinton, enjoyed a wide lead in fundraising. He secured a ballot spot last week when the state Supreme Court ruled he met a seven-year eligibility requirement despite working outside the state for much of the last 20 years.
In the Republican primary, state Sen. Jim Holt faced two opponents. Holt had greater name recognition, in part because of a run for U.S. Senate two years ago in which he won 44 percent of the vote. He was leading in early results.
Counties across Arkansas reported delays in tabulating votes, partly due to problems with new federally mandated electronic voting equipment.
Four counties were unable to use the touch-screen machines. In one, voters were given ballpoint pens to mark paper ballots when felt-tip pens should have been used.