Skip to Content

Conservative Candidates Unite In IF Legislative Race

It’s only been a week since filing to run in the May primary ended, but there is already a twist in the race for House Seat A in the Idaho Falls 33rd District.

A lifelong Democrat is running as a Republican, leaving conservative candidates concerned the vote will be split among them.

On Tuesday, two Republicans dropped out to unite in support of the third.

The conservatives in the race said Dr. Ronald Lechelt is a Democrat trying to take a seat that should be Republican. But Lechelt argued he’s restoring focus to a party that’s veered too far right.

Janet Trujillo kicked off her legislative campaign with a little bit of luck from a coin toss.

“We did best two out of three,” said the Republican candidate for Idaho Falls District 33, House Seat A.

Trujillo won the agreed-upon right to keep campaigning, over fellow Republican candidate Dane Watkins Sr, after they decided their views were very similar. Candidate Tim Urling withdrew before the flip.

“We knew if we had stayed in this race with two of us, we were going to split that vote too much,” said Trujillo.

They didn’t want to risk the seat going to Dr. Ronald Lechelt. The pediatrician served as a Democrat in the legislature from 1977 to 1978, but now he’s running as a Republican.

“I think i’m bringing back the responsible part of the party that many people expressed to me, the feeling the party has left them,” said Lechelt. “I think they do feel it’s a little too far right for many of them.”

Comparing himself to Ronald Reagan, Lechelt said his views have changed over time.

“I finally decided I have become a registered Republican,” said Lechelt.

But Trujillo and other area Republicans don’t buy that.

“I would have to say ‘No.’ His actions do not speak to him being a Republican,” said Trujillo. “I believe Dr. Lechelt is a Democrat trying to steal a Republican seat.”

“It’ll make it harder for me,” said Lechelt. “I’ll have to have more votes than if their votes had been split three ways.”

Doyle Beck said a similar situation ended his campaign for Seat B in District 30. But in both races, Beck said he believes stepping down for Republican unity is the right thing to do.

“I’m more interested in the benefit and plus to the party rather than myself,” said Beck.

Beck said he unsuccessfully tried to rally Republicans to reduce the field in the District 30 race as well. He’s endorsing candidates Wendy Horman and Stan Bell.

The primary election will be decided on May 15.

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

News Team


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content