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Thompson and Ehardt fight through the Republican Pass

Thompson and Ehardt fight through the Republican Pass

Barbara Ehardt and Jeff Thompson are conservatives of the same name from opposing factions of one political party.

Both are Republicans, but their views and priorities differ widely.


Thompson, a former Idaho lawmaker who challenged Ehardt for a seat in the 33A House of Legislators in his undergraduate courses on May 17, recently expressed Ehardt’s concerns about critical race theory in Idaho’s public schools.

The CRT, which has become a political issue in recent years, is “not in” Idaho schools, he told EdNews.

Ehardt, who did not answer questions for the story, has become an unusual place among the party’s tough conservatives, condemning the CRT and other controversial issues since her appointment to the House of Representatives in 2017.

She is a native of Idaho Falls and a former city council member who dominated the headlines in 2020 for co-authorship ban on transgender people in athleticslegislation that eventually spread to varying degrees in at least 30 other states, Idaho Capital Sun reported in 2021.


She is also a longtime basketball coach and a member of the House Education Committee, whose Facebook page exposes her concerns about transgender issues to the fullest. Seven of her seven messages in March in one form or another touched on the subject. A March 18 letter advertised a “quick trip” to Atlanta to protest the first openly transgender athlete to win a swimming competition. I Division NCAA national championship, Leah Thomas.

“Wrong locker room, bro,” the photo reads.

The problems of transgender people and the CRT remain focal points for Ehardt – and support Thompson’s criticism for breaking away from relevant local issues.

Thompson, who served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2009 to 2018, claims to be a “Republican Reagan” born in Harlingen, Texas. The Texas broach is still creeping into his speech.

Scrolling through Thompson’s website shows an emphasis on more moderate Republican talk. Problems he “admires”: “revival” of the economy; encouraging support for the Idaho National Laboratory, where he once worked as a consultant; and “strengthening” education.

“Idaho students and our teachers come first,” he said.

Thompson worked for Fortune 500 corporations, including Marriott Corporation and Aramark, as a regional manager before taking office in 2009.

EdNews sent a questionnaire to both candidates. Ehard did not answer. EdNews will update this story if it does.

Click here for the 2019 profile on Ehardt.

Answers to Thompson’s questionnaire

How do you differentiate yourself from your opponent, including education?

Education will determine the future of our children.

I believe in education as I have not only a high school diploma but also a bachelor’s degree in business finance, a master’s degree in training and development and an MBA.

My experience since I had the opportunity to work in the House of Representatives in the Committees on Education, Taxation, Health and Welfare, and as Deputy Chair of the Business Committee and Chair of the Committee on Environment, Energy and Technology. I cannot overestimate my service in JFAC, the Joint Financial Appropriations Committee, where I was responsible for establishing public schools, higher education, public colleges and other education budgets.

My experience is over twenty years in the business world, most recently responsible for business in the Northwest from Wyoming to Alaska.

In addition, my wife of twenty-nine years has been working in public education and she keeps me up to date with all the pressing issues.

I respect and will respect, work for and support our teachers and educators.

Where is your opponent wrong when it comes to educating Idaho students? Are there any notable areas in which you agree?

My opponent focuses on issues that are not present in our schools, such as CRT, instead of focusing on issues that affect all schools today. Idaho students and our teachers come first. We need to focus on retaining and recruiting the best faculty from our public universities. We need to encourage and help our teachers to keep our public school system successful. I believe we both want the best for our students, but we have different approaches

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing education in Idaho today, and why? How will you handle this in case of election?

The biggest problem facing education in Idaho today is the mental health of our students. A few years ago, more than twenty students ended their lives in Eastern Idaho. Dr. Chuck Sheckett, head of the Bonville School District, at the time knew about a program called Hope Squad in Utah that helped students greatly, so he implemented the program and it worked, saving the lives of teens. This program is implemented in all public schools in Utah and is paid for at the state level through the assignment process. I will lead the state of Idaho in funding this program at our public schools and create through legislative leadership a task force that will focus on saving the lives of our students.

Why are you applying for this position?

It’s all about the people, so I’m available and want to represent the majority, not special interest groups, and work with all stakeholders to create the best solutions for Idaho residents.

Maiden Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

EdNews Assistant Editor and Reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in storytelling about charter schools and teaching students living in poverty. He lives and works in Eastern Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. You can contact him by email at [email protected].

Read more Devin Bodkin stories »

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