COEUR d'ALENE - The quest for a fourth term as District 3 senator ended Tuesday for Mike Jorgenson. He went down swinging.
"Personally, I think this election is not about the candidates but about Phil Hart trying to take over the [Republican] party," Jorgenson said during a phone interview Tuesday night. At the time of the interview, the Kootenai County elections department Web site showed Jorgenson with a lead over his challenger, Steve Vick. "The fact of the matter is that the opponents we all have in the five northern counties were recruited by Phil Hart and company."
Hart is the unopposed Republican representative holding the District 3 Position B seat. A former Constitution Party member, Hart has earned both criticism and hero status for refusing to pay federal taxes for years. He is making restitution to the IRS. Hart also served as a delegate for Ron Paul at the national convention."If voters elect Steve Vick and Vito Barbieri," Jorgenson said, "they have just aided and abetted Phil Hart."
Vick captured 59.5 percent of the vote, beating Jorgenson 3,132-2,132. Owner of Vick Homes, he served four terms in the Montana House of Representatives and has lived in Dalton Gardens for five years.He acknowledged Tuesday night that Hart did influence his political aspirations here.
"I've made no secret of the fact that Phil recruited me to run," he said, adding that he has known Hart for about three years. Vick said Hart and retiring Rep. Jim Clark were both interested in "getting Jorgenson out of that senate seat. They said he was very, very difficult to work with."Vick's campaign focused on job creation, tax policies and the intrusion of federal government into individuals' lives. Vick, 54, is married and has four children. He is active with Real Life Ministries and serves as head basketball coach at Christian Center High School in Hayden.
"I just thank God I had all the help I had," Vick said from his home, where he watched the results come in Tuesday night with around 50 friends and family members. "I got outspent, I think, 3 to 1, but I had a ton of volunteers who got out and worked, and worked hard. It must have been the difference."He credited Hart and Clark's support for spring boarding his campaign, his first in Idaho, to a victory over the incumbent.
"They're very well respected here," he said. "It's very gratifying to me to see all the people willing to step up and help me."
Managing editor Mike Patrick contributed to this story.