COEUR d’ALENE — Sen. Bob Nonini believes his conservative voting record, years of experience and Idaho roots will help him win the Republican nomination for Idaho lieutenant governor in 2018.
Nonini, who grew up in Wallace and has lived in the Coeur d’Alene area for 35 years, filed his candidacy paperwork Tuesday with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.
A Idaho state senator since 2013, Nonini previously served from 2004 to 2012 in the Idaho House of Representatives.
Nonini, 63, said that at this stage in his career, with an open lieutenant governor’s seat, the time is right for him to seek election to the position.
“I’m a passionate guy. That doesn’t mean everyone always agrees with me, but I have passion, and I want to continue to use that passion to do more for the state of Idaho and have maybe a bigger platform,” Nonini said. “I think the lieutenant governor’s seat allows me that platform.”
He said the good relationships he has developed through the years with his colleagues in the Idaho House and Senate will help him, as lieutenant governor, to promote the issues he thinks are most important: education, economic development and quality affordable health care.
Education has long been one of Nonini’s priorities as a legislator. He now serves on the Senate Education Committee and chaired the House Education Committee from 2006 to 2012.
A longtime supporter of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Nonini in 2015 helped form the STEM Caucus, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who promote education in those fields. He also helped create the STEM Action Center in Boise.
Technology has changed the way business is done, Nonini said, including in Idaho’s natural resources industries and agriculture. Idaho workers now need training to use those technologies throughout the state, he said.
“When I say education is a platform of mine, it ties in then, to economic development,” Nonini said.
Regarding health care, Nonini said he was against the Affordable Care Act and opposed the state insurance exchange now in place in Idaho. He said he thinks health care can be delivered more effectively, and he will continue exploring ways to improve how it’s done in the state.
Since sitting Lt. Governor Brad Little announced he is running for governor, several Republican candidates have entered the lieutenant governor race, including some legislators Nonini has worked with through the years.
Among his opponents are Sen. Marv Hagedorn of Meridian, Rep. Kelley Packer of McCammon, former Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls and former Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates of Idaho Falls.
He said he knows Yates, but not as well as he knows the others running.
Nonini said he worked with McGeachin in the House and has served alongside Hagedorn, and he considers them friends. Of Packer, who he never worked directly with but knows from “across the rotunda,” he said, “She’s a nice lady.”
“I don’t want to make it contentious. I want to have the best person win, and I think I’m the best person by far,” Nonini said. “You look at closed Republican primaries, and they’re going to look at who the most conservative person is… I believe I have the best voting record among conservatives.”