May 21, 2024: Letter from the Executive Director

Screenshot 2024-05-22 at 9.37.39 AM

The 2024 Idaho Primary results have arrived and before I dive in, I want to thank our dedicated team at CVI for all their hard work. These were hard-fought races and our team leaned into some of the toughest battleground districts. I also want to thank the bipartisan partners that joined us in the trenches in one of the largest efforts to date to keep Idaho and conservation values strong at the Statehouse. The wins we’re reflecting on this morning wouldn’t have been possible without our coalition of partners. 

In this election, CVI worked in coalition with our partners to support legislative candidates that demonstrated commitment to conservation principles and policy, and whose leadership would have a positive impact on Idaho’s political landscape.

CVI-Endorsed Victories

SHARI BABER, District 15 House Seat B
While a first-time legislative candidate, Shari Baber is no stranger to public service. In 2021, Shari graduated CVI’s first-ever Boards & Commissions Fellowship and quickly moved into leadership of Boise’s Parks & Recreation Commission, recently being selected as Commission President. Baber also operates the nonprofit Brown Like Me and serves on the board for the Idaho Black Community Alliance and Boise Soul Food Festival. Because of Baber’s commitment to her community, and her experience as an outdoor recreation advocate and conservation champion in local leadership, CVI proudly endorsed Baber for the 2024 Primary. Shari swept the polls yesterday with a 66% victory.

ALI RABE, District 16 Senate  
Ali Rabe is a CVI-endorsed human rights attorney and Executive Director of the nonprofit Jesse Tree which works to prevent homelessness and eviction. Rabe’s good votes in 2023 and 2024 have included voting for a historic investment in our outdoor spaces, voting to protect absentee voting, and voting for the Idaho LAUNCH grant program. She crushed her opponent and won with 89% of the vote.

TODD ACHILLES, District 16 House Seat B
Todd Achilles won one of this year’s most contested races, running against three others for District 16 Seat B. He is a professor of public policy and a founding member of Veterans for Idaho Voters. Achilles advocates for maintaining our safe and secure election system and keeping Idaho lands accessible, while his top priorities are fully funding Idaho schools, accessible and affordable housing, and creating living-wage jobs for Idahoans. Achilles has been a partner of CVI’s for more than a decade, earning him Conservation Voters for Idaho’s endorsement.

While we are celebrating significant wins throughout the state, there were some races we monitored that resulted in losses of consistent, common-sense partners in the Idaho Legislature. In District 8, our conservation partners Rep. Matt Bundy and Sen. Geoff Schroeder will not be on the ballot in November. Both lawmakers served their districts with well-balanced, consistent leadership, and they will be missed in the future legislative sessions. Unfortunately, some candidates we hoped to see to victory were outvoted by a small but loud network of far-right voters, resulting in wins for extremists such as Sen. Glenneda Zuiderveld, Sen. Tammy Nichols, and Sen. Christy Zito. 

Wins For Idaho

JIM WOODWARD, District 1 Senate & MARK SAUTER, District 1 House Seat A
In a key victory last night, North Idaho voters took back the district in favor of responsible and rational lawmakers. Jim Woodward has served as a consistent common-sense partner in the Idaho Senate during prior terms in 2018 and 2020. In the 2022 General election, he unfortunately lost to far-right extremists in favor of Scott Herndon, who used his time in the legislature to attempt to seize control of Idaho’s public lands and oppose conservation efforts.

In the House, incumbent Mark Sauter secured a victory over two far-right contenders. During his term, Sauter took critical votes on wildlife management, outdoor recreation, and wildlife fire suppression. He has prioritized securing long-term backcountry access in Boundary County.

LORI MCCANN, District 6 House Seat A
Lori McCann defeated her two opponents, securing a common-sense voice for District 6. McCann is a former educator and entrepreneur, operating several small businesses, including a working cattle ranch.
As a legislator, she co-sponsored the Idaho Launch Program, creating career and workforce scholarships for high school graduates to pursue in-demand careers. She has voted in support of our outdoor spaces, wildlife management and recreation funding.

JOHN SHIRTS, District 9 House Seat A
John C. Shirts beat incumbent and far-right extremist Jacyn Gallagher. Shirts is an Air Force veteran and former Assistant United States Attorney and federal prosecutor in Idaho who supports protecting agricultural land and our water. While in office, Rep. Gallagher, a recent California transplant, voted against outdoor recreation, workforce training, absentee ballots, and access to the ballot initiative.

BEN FUHRIMAN, District 30 House Seat B
Ben Fuhriman ran a strong campaign on five pillars: safeguarding water, economic growth, lowering taxes, supporting law enforcement, and supporting education. Just 10 votes secured his victory over far-right extremist Julianne Young, who is a lawmaker who voted against outdoor recreation funding, clean energy workforce training via Idaho LAUNCH, and more.

Republican voters turned out statewide to challenge extremism in our legislature, choosing instead to support candidates like Rep. Lori McCann (D6A), Rep. James Petzke (D21A), Rep. Dan Garner (D28B), Rep. Britt Raybould (D34B), and Rep. Josh Wheeler (D35B). We offer our congratulations to each of these candidates for their victories against far-right challengers.

By the Numbers
CVI’s endorsement is more than a stamp of approval on a candidate. In the months following our endorsement announcement, we leveraged our time, resources, and financial support behind candidates that we identified as conservation champions. Our contributions to the election are tangible and impactful. This election, we reached Idaho voters in the following ways:

  • Mail: CVI reached Idaho voters with 6 unique mailers on behalf of our endorsed candidates. Over 38,870 pieces of mail were delivered to mailboxes.
  • Digital: Using social media, CVI reached over 180,000 individuals in key districts, with the content being viewed over 475,000 times. Our 2024 Primary Voter Guide was viewed 7,000 times.
  • In-Person: CVI’s Voter Outreach Specialists connected in-person with over 5,450 voters at their homes over the past five weeks.

Looking forward
The fight for Idaho is worth it. Some election nights are celebrations and others are reminders of why we do year-round movement-building work to hold folks accountable. I’m deeply proud of the work CVI and many others did over the course of the last few months. What matters in these moments is our ability to celebrate the wins and embrace and focus on the work ahead. We’re eager to roll up our sleeves and travel the state to build support for our conservation priorities for the November 5th election. 

We’ll see you there, 

Alexis Pickering
Executive Director
Conservation Voters for Idaho