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Cruz Wins Idaho GOP Presidential Primary, Trump A Distant Second

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network
Five-year-old Axel Kiska of Boise won the cuteness contest before a single vote was tallied at the Idaho GOP presidential primary election night party. The Kiska family's preferred candidate finished in second place in Idaho.

Sen. Ted Cruz won the Idaho Republican presidential primary. Cruz pulled in about 45 percent of the GOP vote Tuesday followed by businessman Donald Trump in a distant second place with 28 percent.

Idaho State Treasurer Ron Crane served as Ted Cruz’s honorary state chairman. Crane said Cruz’s values aligned with Idaho’s GOP electorate.

“He connected with Idahoans,” Crane said. “I think his visit to Idaho this last weekend was strategic. His timing was perfect.”

Donald Trump’s volunteer state chairman in Idaho, former state Sen. Rod Beck, said his guy finished second without campaigning in the state at all.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get our candidate here,” Beck said. “Cruz coming here, you know campaigns make a difference. He (Cruz) took out some TV ads that were specific to Idaho.”

There were 13 names on the ballot, but only Cruz and Trump got any of the crucial nominating convention delegates. The pair will split Idaho’s 32 delegates proportionally. Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates said under the state’s rules none of others will get any.

“The floor was set at 20 percent. Some states had 5, 10 or 15; we’re at 20,” Yates said. “So any candidate that fails to get to 20 percent gets zero delegates out of Idaho. If these numbers hold, that means both (Marco) Rubio and (John) Kasich are at zero.”

At an election night celebration, Yates said he’s glad his party pushed to move Idaho’s presidential primary up on the calendar. The election used to be in May, where Oregon and Washington Republicans still are on the nominating calendar.

Idaho Democrats will choose their presidential nominating delegates at county caucuses on March 22. Washington state Democrats caucus on Saturday, March 26. Washington and Oregon’s presidential primary is not until May 17.

Idaho will hold a second primary election this spring in May for everything left over besides the presidential race -- including congressional, legislative and local offices.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.