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2024 Idaho primary results: Rep. Todd Achilles wins most competitive Democratic race


2024 Idaho primary results: Rep. Todd Achilles wins most competitive Democratic race

May 22, 2024 | 1:00 am ET
By Mia Maldonado
2024 Idaho primary results: Rep. Todd Achilles wins most competitive Democratic race
Four Boise Democrats faced off in the May 21 primary election for the District 16, Seat B position in the Idaho House of Representatives. From left to right, the candidates included Todd Achilles, Jonathan Chu, Nikson Mathews and Wayne Richey. (Courtesy of the candidates)

Idaho’s most competitive Democratic primary election race has a winner. 

According to unofficial election results on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website, Rep. Todd Achilles has won the Democratic primary race for District 16, Seat B in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Achilles will face Boise Republican Jackie Davidson in the general election. 

The seat, which represents residents in Boise and Garden City, was open after Rep. Colin Nash, D-Boise, stepped down from the Legislature in February to focus on his role on the Boise City Council, the Idaho Capital Sun previously reported. Achilles, who did not run for office in 2022, was appointed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little to finish off Nash’s term.

The three other candidates included Nikson Mathews, an LGBTQ+ legislative advocate; Jonathan Chu, a family medicine doctor; and Wayne Richey, a former candidate for Boise mayor in 2019. 

According to election results on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website, Achilles received about 1,337 votes — or 45% of the vote.

“This was a tough race,” Achilles told the Idaho Capital Sun late Tuesday night. “My duty is to represent everybody in the district. For the folks whose vote I didn’t earn, I’ll work hard to get in the November general election.”

Achilles said the level of competition in his district is good for the Idaho Democratic Party. 

“Now, we’ll focus on the general election and holding the seat for Democrats to work on issues that are important to folks in District 16 such as education, housing affordability and overturning the draconian abortion ban.”

Tuesday’s primary election results won’t become official until the State Board of Canvassers certifies the election results. The canvass is scheduled to occur at 11:15 a.m. June 5 at the Mountain America Center in Idaho Falls, McGrane said.

Results of Idaho’s Democratic contested races

Most Democrats running for a position in the Idaho Legislature did not face an opponent in the primary election. 

However, in addition to District 16, the following three districts had contested races between Democrats: 

District 1, House of Representative Seat B

Kathryn Larson, D-Sagle: 987 votes, 92%
Bob Vickaryous, D-Bonners Ferry: 87 votes, 8%

Larson will face Sandpoint Republican Cornel Rasor in the general election. Rasor is running in place of incumbent Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay. Dixon, the assistant House majority leader, did not file for re-election. 

District 15, House of Representatives Seat B

Shari Baber, D-Boise: 1,194 votes, 67%
Ivan Hurlburt, D-Boise: 584 votes, 33%

Baber will face incumbent Rep. Dori Healy, R-Boise, in the general election. 

District 16, Senator

Incumbent Sen. Ali Rabe, D-Boise: 2,503 votes, 89%
Justin Mitson, D-Boise: 311 votes, 11%

Rabe will go on to face Boise Republican LeeJoe Lay in the general election.

Hope, health care, and housing: District 16 House candidates respond to loss

Mathews was second behind Achilles, receiving 813 votes, or about 28% of the vote.

In an interview, he said his campaign was rooted in representation. 

As a transgender man, he regularly testified against bills that impact the LGBTQ+ community including bills signed into law that redefine the definition of “gender” and “sex,” a bill that protects public workers from disciplinary action if they choose not to use someone’s preferred pronouns, and a bill to prevent state funds from funding gender-affirming care for transgender people. 

Mathews raised the most money out of his fellow candidates, raising $43,000 to his campaign. While most of the 630 donations he received came from Idaho, $22,000 of his campaign came from out-of-state donors, with many coming from Virginia, California, and Washington, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s campaign finance database

Mathews said he has family in many of the states where he received campaigns. Additionally, he was endorsed by the LGBTQ+ Victory Fund, a nationwide political action committee focused on increasing the number of LGBTQ+ people in public office. 

Mathews said no matter the results of the primary election, he plans to continue advocating for LGBTQ+ rights. 

“For me, this campaign is about hope,” he said. “There is a lack of hope right now in the community rightfully so. There’s frustration and there’s anger, and I just want LGBTQ+ Idahoans to feel like they have somebody who has their back.”

Behind Mathews, Chu held the third place spot in the race. Chu has a background in family medicine, even campaigning with the motto: “Is there a doctor in the house?”

Chu told the Sun in a legislative questionnaire that women’s and maternity health was the main issue that inspired him to run for office. As of late Tuesday night, election results showed Chu received about 634 votes, or 22% of the vote. 

On Wednesday, Chu told the Sun he had a positive learning experience running for office. 

“I really enjoyed door knocking,” he said. “I think it’s a natural thing as a family doctor to hear what people’s concerns are.”

Chu said he also learned about all the effort it takes to run for legislative office. 

“Running for office and holding a seat are two very different jobs,” he said. “I didn’t know how much work the running piece was. We totally rearranged our personal lives to accommodate the needs of the campaign.”

Before this election, Chu said he never envisioned himself running for office, but he saw it as a way for him to put his health care expertise to use.

“I will stay involved, but probably not running for office again,” he said, noting that he is retired and 62 years old.

In fourth place, Wayne Richey received 89 votes, or 3% of the votes for District 16, Seat B less than when he ran in the 2022 general election as an independent candidate for District 16, Seat A. He received more than 1,000 votes in 2022, but lost to Rep. Soñia Galaviz, D-Boise.

“I did better as an Independent than I did as a Democrat,” Richey said, laughing over the phone.

Despite his loss, Richey said that he’ll do whatever it takes, like running for office, to raise awareness on the lack of affordable housing in Boise. 

“People from California can sell their house for millions of dollars, pay cash for a house in Idaho and live like kings while Idahoans are priced out and can’t afford to live here anymore,” he told the Sun. “At the end of the day, I’m fighting for people who call Boise their hometown.”

Born in Boise and having raised his family in the city, Richey has had the same zip code his entire life. He did not fundraise or report expenditures to his campaign a stark difference from the other candidates. 

“They all made more money than me, and they campaigned hard,” Richey said. “I’m OK with that. I would do it again. Maybe.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comment from Idaho House of Representatives District 16, Seat B Democratic candidate Jonathan Chu, who could not be immediately reached late Tuesday night.