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Idaho mail-in primary results due late Tuesday

Associated Press 

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is holding its first mail-in primary because of the coronavirus pandemic, and a ruling allowed voters an extra week to request ballots.

What effect that has on who will be on the November ballot will be made clear late Tuesday when officials start releasing results.

More than 430,000 ballot requests came in ahead of the May 26 deadline, including 14,000 after an initial May 19 deadline. Some 282,000 ballots had been returned as of Monday morning. The deadline to get them into the hands of election officials is 8 p.m. Tuesday. Ballots arriving after that won't be counted, including ones with postmarks ahead of the deadline.

Former 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan of Plummer is running against former congressional candidate Jim Vandermaas to challenge Republican Sen. Jim Risch in November. Jordan garnered national attention in 2018 when she sought to become the first Native American governor in the United States.

The Democratic nominee will have a task against Risch, who is seeking his third six-year term representing one of the country's most conservative states. Risch is running unopposed in the GOP primary.

Two other Republicans seeking to represent Idaho in Congress are facing primary challenges.

Rep. Mike Simpson, who has been in office since 1999, faces Kevin Rhoades, a Boise resident and small businessman. Rhoades is trying to position himself to the right of Simpson. But Simpson has a history of bringing in federal dollars for the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory, one of the largest employers in Simpson's district as well as the state.

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First-term Rep. Russ Fulcher is being challenged by Boise resident Nicholas Jones, who owns several board game shops and burger eateries. It was the lawsuit by Jones that extended the deadline for requesting ballots.

Democrats competing in the House primary are Rudy Soto, a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, and Staniela Nikolova, a University of Idaho law student.

Idaho Republicans have a closed primary, with ballots available only to registered Republican voters, and the contested congressional seats are typically won by the incumbents.

Besides those races, all 70 seats in the Idaho House and 35 in the Idaho Senate are on the ballot. However, many of the races are uncontested.

Republicans hold super-majorities in both chambers, and the toughest test for most Republican officeholders is the primary.

Some races of note include the contest among four Republicans to replace Rep. Gary Collins of Nampa, who is retiring after 10 terms.

In eastern Idaho, incumbent Republican Rep. Britt Raybould of Rexburg is being challenged by former Republican Rep. Ron Nate, who previously served two terms before losing in the 2018 primary.

In northern Idaho, incumbent Republican Rep. Thyra Stevenson died of after a heart attack on May 11. There's a process to replace her, but there's also a possibility she will still win the primary because many ballots have already been mailed in, potentially complicating filling the seat.

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