If you’re an Idaho Democrat, you probably want to sit down for this.
Sens. Edgar Malepeai and Diane Bilyeu, representatives of districts 30 and 29, respectively, have announced their decision to not seek reelection in the fall. While people typically like to profess their disdain for politicians, especially in Idaho, this announcement has some real consequences for those in the state who vote blue.
Malepeai and Bilyeu are two of only seven Democratic senators in the state. Both reside in the more liberal-leaning (compared to most of the state) city of Pocatello, which could very well elect a couple Republicans into office to replace them.
The news is especially big for Malepeai, who has served five terms in the Senate and acted as the Senate minority leader since 2010. In a press release, he made it a point to mention the failed “Add the Words” campaign, which a senate committee refused to print, despite his emotional plea.
“I wanted very much to allow my fellow Idahoans who experience discrimination simply for being themselves to have a chance to bring their stories into this building so that others might understand the overwhelming need to extend the basic protections too many of us take for granted,” he said in the release.
Bilyeu, who has served three consecutive terms in the Senate, as well as a single term in 1968, said she intends to spend more time with her family in Pocatello. In her press release, she said she will also work on finishing her second book “A Conversation with Shakespeare.”
While this doesn’t necessarily mean a shift in local party representation (calm down all you political junkies), it will certainly make this year’s race more interesting, with fresh candidates of both parties stepping up to the plate. But no matter what your political leaning is, we should all applaud these two fine individuals for serving southeast Idaho for so many years.