Tuesday’s primary election is poised to shake up Idaho’s political scene — and its education system — for years to come.

The state’s top education office is one of several up for grabs May 17, with two Republican challengers and the two-term incumbent vying for the job.

Voters will have their say on all of Idaho’s seven state offices and 105 legislative races in Tuesday’s precursor to the November general election.

And it’s not just about the candidates. Around $18.5 million in school bonds and levies are also on the ballot.

With the big day approaching, it’s a lot to take in. If you’re still brushing up, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s rehash the major races, starting with the collision course for state superintendent.

A new schools chief? Maybe.

A new face could emerge from the GOP field of hopefuls.

Or not.

One of three Republicans running for state superintendent — two-term incumbent Sherri Ybarra and challengers Debbie Critchfield and Branden Durst — will go on to face the sole Democrat in the race, Terry Gilbert, come November.

EdNews spent months tracking the rhetoric — and the money — in the high-profile race.

Go here for analysis on how Critchfield has positioned herself as a change agent with year’s of experience in K-12, how Durst — a Democratic legislator turned conservative hardliner — has courted right-wing Republicans and how Ybarra has touted her experience on the job and in the classroom to try and sway voters.

Or, if you want a more raw brush-up on the candidates, click here for our debate coverage. The candidates laid out their plans — in their own words — here.

Follow the camaign donations to see how Critchfield left Ybarra and Durst in the dust. (Hint: it’s not even close.) And see how this year’s state superintendent’s primary is the spendiest in at least two decades

But campaign finance reports aren’t a perfect tool to predict winners and losers, so don’t count anyone out just yet. A Durst win isn’t far-fetched, and Ybarra, whose opponents out-raised her in 2014 and 2018, has shown she doesn’t need the most money to win.

Another reality this election cycle: local politics. Find out how local GOP central committees have served as both battlegrounds and campaign allies for the candidates.

The packed field for governor

We also tracked fundraising in all the major statewide primary races, including a dozen candidates running for governor.

Nearly half of the money, over $2.3 million in the governor’s race, has gone to Gov. Brad Little, whose opponents include his own lieutenant governor.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin has emerged as a relentless Little critic over the last year. Like Durst, she’s galvanized her place among Idaho’s hardline conservatives.

She is Little’s lieutenant, but she’s no political ally.

The dynamic has shaped the governor’s election approach.

But McGeachin’s faces issues of her own as May 17 draws closer. A shortfall in her own office budget recently took a new turn.

Click here to view the entire field of gubernatorial candidates and how much each has raised, and spent. The list also includes candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general and secretary of state.

Legislative races galore

You read it right: 105 legislative seats are up for grabs this election cycle.

It’s dizzying, and some races have big implications for K-12. Here’s a scouting report.

We also profiled some more notable legislative face-offs:

Other election tidbits

Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 a.m., May 17, but they may open earlier, if the county chooses.

For questions or concerns about voting, contact your county clerk. Click here for a statewide list of clerk’s offices. Go here to double check your polling place and find out if you are registered.

About Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

Read more stories by Devin Bodkin »

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