Doug Ricks has ousted Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, in a close race that mirrors the result of their contest two years ago.
Nate pulled in 2,835 votes between Madison and Bonneville Counties, 159 votes short of Ricks’ 2,994.
“We’re just excited that we’re able to win this,” Ricks said early Wednesday morning. “I’m looking forward to working together to do everything I can for the district. I want to thank everyone who voted for me and everyone who helped out with the campaign. I’m humbled and honored that we were victorious in this.”
Nate did not return phone calls seeking comment.
When the two clashed in 2014, Nate eked out a narrow 167-vote victory.
Nate has served two terms in the Legislature since ousting Rep. Doug Hancey in the 2014 primary. Nate campaigned opposing Hancey’s support for creating Your Health Idaho, and found a winning issue in a year where the Legislature shifted sharply to the right.
During his time in the House, Nate has risen to become a prominent leader of the further-right portion of the Legislature, at times leading head-on fights with Speaker Scott Bedke. He says he has worked to stick to campaign promises to vote only in favor of legislation that’s moral, constitutional and in line with his economic principles.
Ricks nearly ousted Nate two years ago, losing a narrow election. That year, he principally attacked the number of nay votes Nate cast in the Legislature, saying he would support better governance through compromise. And he charged that many of Nate’s votes, including one opposing the creation of an agency to oversee school safety, didn’t match the values of the district.
The defeat of Nate is a major setback for the further right portion of the Idaho Legislature. Nate, an economics professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, played a key role in organizing similarly minded lawmakers in the House.
There’s no Democrat in the race, so Ricks is expected to assume the seat in the House next year.
Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.