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Paulette Jordan Rides Blue Wave To Democratic Nomination For Governor

Democratic candidate for governor Paulette Jordan addresses her supporters Tuesday night at The Handlebar Boise.
Amanda Peacher
Boise State Public Radio
Democratic candidate for governor Paulette Jordan addresses her supporters Tuesday night at The Handlebar Boise.

Former State Representative Paulette Jordan has won the Democratic primary in Idaho’s gubernatorial race. If Jordan wins in November, she’d become the first woman governor of Idaho and the first Native American governor in the country.

Click 'play' to hear the audio version of this story.

Jordan was dancing and high-fiving as she made her way to the front of her election night party crowd on Tuesday night.

The 38-year-old mother of two is a former Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council member. In her victory speech she talked about need to improve public education and protect public lands. 

“We are making history,” says Jordan. “I come here, on the vision and the prayers of our ancestors.” 

Jordan attracts young progressives, like 25-year-old Latina voter Miriam Arroya. 

“After the Trump election, that was definitely a blow to my heart, a blow to my community,” Arroya said.  “And Paulette -- she inspires several types of people.” 

Jordan was outspent at a ration of about 6 to 1 by her Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, but Jordan’s anti-establishment message resonated with blue voters.  

Even her election night party venue was a nod to her independence from all things establishment -- she held it at a bicycle themed bar, a few blocks away from the rest if the Democratic party celebrating in a hotel ballroom in Boise. She scoffed at some skepticism her campaign heard during the primary. 

“They said, ‘She doesn’t have the money,” says Jordan. “But I’m here to tell you all it is our time. People had faith.” 

Democratic turnout was especially high for a primary in Idaho, especially in Ada County. About 19,000 more people voted in the Democratic primary than four years ago. 

Several local polling places ran out of Democratic Party ballots Tuesday afternoon with voters having to wait about an hour for them to arrive. A judge denied a party's request to keep two precincts open after polls closed due to a lack of evidence to justify the move. 

But Jordan faces a big fight for the general election.  Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in Idaho by about four to one. Idaho has not a Democrat in the governor’s seat since 1990. 

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio

Copyright 2020 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Amanda Peacher is an Arthur F. Burns fellow reporting and producing in Berlin in 2013. Amanda is from Portland, Oregon, where she works as the public insight journalist for Oregon Public Broadcasting. She produces radio and online stories, data visualizations, multimedia projects, and facilitates community engagement opportunities for OPB's newsroom.
Amanda Peacher
Amanda Peacher works for the Mountain West News Bureau out of Boise State Public Radio. She's an Idaho native who returned home after a decade of living and reporting in Oregon. She's an award-winning reporter with a background in community engagement and investigative journalism.