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A Gem State in the Rough for Ambitious Republicans | Farm Team

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Many Idaho politicians are waiting to see whether Otter, above, decides to run for re-election in 2014 before making decisions on their own future.

“If Otter steps down, I would fully expect both Labrador and Little to run and that would create a very divided Republican primary,” said Dean Ferguson, communications director for the Idaho Democratic Party. “We expect to have a Democratic candidate who is competitive.”

Outside the gubernatorial race, Democrats have a couple of names on their radar.

As Idaho’s first black state lawmaker, state Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise is considered a standout prospect for future vacant seats. State Rep. Mat Erpelding has received recent attention for his plans to go on a 40-day, 900-mile hike to raise money and draw attention to rural communities.

Democratic operatives also mentioned 42-year-old former state House Minority Caucus Chairman Brian Cronin, who was named a “rising star” in state and local government by the Aspen Institute in 2011.

Cronin, who stepped down from office at the end of 2012, cited the political constraints and frustrations for young Democrats like himself.

“Recent trends have pointed to an increasingly extremist Republican Party that panders to the fringe, and these people do well in Idaho,” Cronin said. “It’s a tough environment for Democrats.”

Farm Team is a state-by-state look at the up-and-coming politicos who may eventually run for Congress. The column runs on Thursdays.

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