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Local candidate says Gov. Otter betrayed GOP by endorsing write-in opponent

East Idaho Elects

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Tom Loertshcer, left, and Chad Christensen

IDAHO FALLS — A local GOP candidate said Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has betrayed the Idaho Republican Party by endorsing his write-in opponent.

Ammon resident Chad Christensen narrowly defeated 30-year incumbent Rep. Tom Loertscher of Bone during the May primary election. But last week, Loertscher announced he would try again for the District 32B seat in November as an independent write-in candidate.

On Wednesday, the three-term governor, who is retiring at the end of the year, endorsed Loertscher’s write-in campaign.

“He’s betrayed the party,” Christensen told EastIdahoNews.com. “To me, that just says they (Otter and Loertscher) don’t respect the will of the people. The people spoke, and they don’t respect that.”

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Parker said the party only supports the winner of the Republican primary.

“On May 15, Republican voters in Legislative District 32 chose Chad Christensen to be our nominee for State House seat B,” Parker said. “The Idaho Republican Party respects the process and the voice of Republicans. We encourage voters in the 32nd District to vote for Chad Christensen on November 6.”

In Otter’s endorsement of Loertscher, the governor cited low voter turnout as part of his reason for the endorsement.

“Voters in District 32 deserve to have a real say in who will serve them in Boise,” Otter said in a statement released by Loertscher. “I am mindful of the fact that most voters did not participate in the primary. In fact, Tom’s opponent won with less than 16 percent of district voters supporting him.”

RELATED: Losing the primary doesn’t mean this candidate is down and out

Christensen said voter turnout was normal for a non-presidential election primary in his district.

“The voters spoke — it doesn’t matter what the turnout is to me,” Christensen said.

Otter cited Loertscher’s experience working with Medicaid as a key factor in his endorsement.

“There is probably no one in the Legislature who knows more about how Medicaid works than Tom Loertscher,” Otter is quoted in the release. “If the people approve Prop. 2 this fall, we’re going to need Tom’s expertise in crafting something that will work for people who need help — as well as the taxpayers.”

In the release, Loertscher said he is “humbled” by the endorsement.

“He and I agree that the next couple years in the Legislature will present serious challenges,” Loertscher said. “I am running because I believe I can still make a valuable contribution. The families of southeast Idaho deserve to have a person who can be effective at fighting for them.”

Christensen said Loertscher is out of touch with the people in his district.

“I feel he’s lost touch with reality, and I feel he’s been out of touch with his constituents for quite awhile, and that’s why he lost,” Christensen said. “He’s still out of touch with them.”

Christensen, an Idaho Falls native, served Army Reserve for 12 years and served as a military police investigator. In addition, he served in law enforcement as a county probation officer, state felony parole officer and state welfare fraud investigator. In May, Christensen won the primary with 51 percent of the vote.

On the ballot, Christensen is running unopposed.

Learn more about both candidates here.

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