COEUR d'ALENE - All three Republicans held off their Democratic challengers in the District 2 legislative races.
Incumbents Sen. Steve Vick and Rep. Vito Barbieri and political newcomer Ed Morse beat their challengers, according to final results posted online by the Kootenai County Elections Department Wednesday morning.
Final results showed all 73 precincts counted, in addition to more than 20,000 absentee ballots,
"I'm happy my constituents are going to send me down there (Boise) again to give me a chance to work in the direction we stated," said Barbieri, who earned his second term in the District 2 Seat A by defeating Cheryl Stransky, 14,132 votes to 7,364. "There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm looking forward to it."
Two big issues facing lawmakers when they meet in Boise in January will be trying to procure federal forest land in Idaho to state control, so it can manage its own resource, tax base and create jobs, the Dalton Gardens Republican said.
The other will be using the lessons of the defeated education reform propositions to "hone down" legislation that will reshape Idaho schools.
Vick, of Dalton Gardens, earned his second term to the Senate by defeating Democrat Shirley McFaddan of Athol.
Results, which will not be final until a canvass is completed, showed Vick earning 14,859 votes, nearly 69 percent of the total, over McFaddan's 6,683.
Despite the victory, Vick said he wasn't optimistic politically because of President Barack Obama's re-election the same night.
Vick, like many Idaho politicians, differs politically with the White House administration. A top priority for lawmakers along with gaining control of federal lands, he said, will be to see what the state will do in light of the federal Affordable Care Act.
Legislators can no longer wait and see if the law will be struck down in the courts or if a new president will repeal it.
"That will be a major issue," he said. "Now we probably have to look at it a little different than we did before."
Morse, a Hayden Republican, defeated Democrat Dan English for legislative District 2 Seat B 13,545 votes to 7,861.
Morse won the Republican primary in May over then embattled incumbent Phil Hart, whose quest for a fifth term ended amid legal battles over unpaid taxes. Morse is a real estate appraiser and consultant who earned public office for the first time.
He also said health care reform will be a major issue for legislators come January, as well as what they'll do with education and how they'll balance the budget in a weak economy.
"There are three big items that are going to be staring us in the face as well as many smaller ones," he said.