GOP challengers seek to unseat Idaho Budget Committee co-chairman • Idaho Capital Sun

Two prominent Republican challengers are hoping to unseat a veteran Republican lawmaker and state budget writer in Tuesday's Republican primary for Seat B in the Idaho House of Representatives.

The GOP primary features incumbent Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti, incumbent Assemblywoman Wendy Horman and Republican National Committee member Bryan Smith, all from Idaho Falls. Given the name recognition of each candidate and the fact that two Republicans are challenging an established Republican incumbent, this could prove to be one of Idaho's 2024 primary election is one to watch.

Coletti is an attorney and U.S. Army National Guard veteran and has served as mayor of Ammon since 2018. Coletti previously served on the Ammon City Council since 2010.

Horman is a small business owner who has served six terms in the Idaho Legislature and holds the position of co-chair of the Idaho Legislature's Joint-Finance Appropriations Committee (JFAC). JFAC is a powerful legislative committee that sets every element of the state budget. Before being elected to the Idaho Legislature, Horman served on the Bonneville Joint School District 93 school board.

Smith is an Idaho Falls attorney who previously ran two unsuccessful campaigns for U.S. Congress. Smith lost to incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, in 2014 and 2022. In August, Smith was appointed to represent Idaho at the Republican National Committee.


Legislative District 32 is located entirely in Bonneville County in eastern Idaho. The district includes the cities of Ammon, Iona and part of the city of Idaho Falls, as well as parts of western Bonneville County.

The winner of Tuesday's Republican primary will advance to the general election on November 5, where he will face Democrat Patricia Dustin Stanger.

The Idaho Capital Sun sent the same four questions to every candidate in the race. Horman responded that Coletti said he did not have time to complete the questionnaire and that Smith had not responded to multiple requests to complete the questionnaire. Read on for Horman's answers to the Sun's questionnaire.

Idaho's abortion law is one of the strictest in the country, and many doctors and hospital administrators have said it has made recruiting and retaining gynecologists and maternal-fetal medicine specialists even more difficult, especially in rural areas. Do you support legislation, such as health exemptions, that would change or clarify Idaho's abortion law?

Hörmann: “Idaho law is clear: Abortion is illegal except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger. A doctor may, in accordance with “good medical judgment,” use any means necessary to save a mother’s life. IC 18-622(4) states: “Medical treatment of a pregnant woman by a health care professional as defined in this chapter that results in the accidental death or unintentional injury of the unborn child shall not constitute a violation of this section.”

To my knowledge, no doctor in Idaho has ever been sued for performing an abortion to save a mother's life. Bonneville County voters are overwhelmingly pro-life, and I will consider any future pro-life legislation on their behalf.

For many years, long before the Defense of Life Act was enacted, Idaho was at the low end of the number of physicians per capita. There are many nuances when hiring doctors, including gynecologists. Personally, I am aware that some doctors want to move to Idaho to avoid abortions. Other issues impacting maternal care in Idaho include the high cost of malpractice insurance, declining birth rates and low Medicaid reimbursement rates.”

Co-chair of the Idaho Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, listens to proceedings at the Idaho State Capitol Building on Jan. 11, 2023. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

Do you support the use of public funds for private education, including through tax credits or education savings accounts for parents, or in other ways? Why or why or not?

Horman: “Yes. Idaho already uses public money for private education, starting with the Launch program, which can be used at public, private and religious institutions. The Advanced Opportunity Program (which provides funds for college credits and technical skills to high school students), the Opportunity Scholarship (for college students), and the Empowering Parents Microgrants (for K-12 students) support all students who attend public, attend private and religious schools.

These existing programs are fully constitutional in Idaho. Research clearly shows that increasing educational choice improves outcomes for all children, including those who attend public schools. Recognizing that NONE of the school choice bills I co-sponsored with Senator Den Hartog proposed taking money away from public schools, the 2024 BSU Public Policy Survey asked respondents the following question: “Would you recommend a plan that would allow parents in Idaho, support or reject it?” Take that $8,000 out of the public school system and use it to enroll your child in a private or religious school? 49% of survey respondents said they supported such a plan. 65% of Republicans, 46% of Independents and 35% of Democrats. School choice and the right of parents to choose the best education option for their child, regardless of income or zip code, is not a side issue. It is at the heart of the electorate and crosses ideological boundaries.”

Transgender people and LGBTQ+ advocates in Idaho have testified that policies such as redefining sex and gender and criminalizing doctors for providing gender-affirming care to youth, among others, are harmful to the transgender community and undermine its existence. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Hörmann: “I voted to support H71, which protects children struggling with an identity crisis from making decisions that could cause permanent damage to their bodies and souls. I don't believe it undermines the existence of these children; I believe it protects them. We don't allow children to buy alcohol, vote, drive a car, or even use a tanning bed until they are old enough to understand the potential consequences and do so responsibly. The best way to protect youth in identity crises is not to help them secretly hide their problems from their parents or surgically remove or add body parts. H71 was called the 'At-Risk Children Protection Act' for a reason. That's exactly what it does: protect children from making decisions they don't yet have the maturity to make, for reasons that may very well be temporary, situational, or influenced by social media.”

According to the 2024 Boise State University Idaho Political Poll, Idahoans remain concerned about a range of issues related to growth, housing and economic security. What specific steps would you take as a legislator to address these concerns?

Horman: “Limit the size of government through low taxes and limiting government spending. I have supported $3.7 billion in tax cuts and refunds over the last four years. Governor Little and the Legislature have worked together to pay down debt and invest one-time funds in infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water projects and broadband. We have been awarded a AAA credit rating for our budgeting decisions.

Senator Scott Grow and I have advocated for a more transparent and accountable budget process during the 2024 legislative session. For the first time ever, we have separated basic spending (fixed spending) from growth spending (new spending). We now have a building block in place that moves Idaho from basic compliance with budget laws to accountability for the efficient and effective use of taxpayer dollars toward performance-based budgeting. For the first time, we will link spending to promised results. This is great news for taxpayers, their wallets and their economic security.”

Anna Harden

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