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Mother of state senator supports write-in candidate Steve Johnson

September 29, 2022

By Clarice McKenney

Gini Woodward
“For someone who claims to be a Christian,” Gini Woodward said at a recent gathering, “Steve’s opponent’s words and attitudes are unchristian-like.” She earlier had given full-throated support to Steve Johnson, lifelong farmer from Bonner County, to become far-north Idaho’s next state senator. She addressed 15 residents of northernmost Boundary County who gathered at the Mt Hall Fire Station September to hear Johnson.

As mother of Idaho Senator Jim Woodward, who narrowly was defeated in the primary by Bonner County Republican Central Committee chair Scott Herndon, Gini Woodward, Bonners Ferry, was asked to say a few words about her support. Woodward is a longtime Bonners Ferry community organizer and recently became a volunteer on Johnson’s campaign.

She invited the crowd to imagine what it was like for her to receive in the mail countless lies about her son during the primary campaign. “Jim has been a registered Republican since high school,” she said, “and the claims his opponent made about Jim made people who didn’t know my son vote for the other guy.”

Woodward explained that Jim graduated from the University of Idaho as a mechanical engineer, was an officer serving in the US Navy, established a successful business and then won election as Idaho State Senator serving Boundary and Bonner Counties. She said the primary defeat was the only time her son has failed at anything in his life, and that blow came shortly before Jim and Gini lost his father, Mike, retired Bonners Ferry City Engineer, to dementia complicated by pneumonia and Covid.

“I cried when I learned Jim no longer was our state senator,” said one woman. She told his mother that Jim was “the best state senator I’ve ever known in three different states I’ve lived in.”

A member of the group pointed out that on the other hand, Jim Woodward’s opponent had been so disruptive that he once was escorted out of the Idaho Legislature by security police. Another meeting attendee noted to the group that Jim was congratulated for the way he handled the attack in the Senate.

Herndon's campaign in the primary was controversial, and included a number of attack ads disparaging Woodward and making false or misleading claims, paid for by Idaho Freedom Action, an arm of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2009 with a stated mission of “replacing the state’s socialist policies.”

According to a report in the Idaho Capital Sun, Herndon was one of 14 Idaho legislative candidates named in a campaign finance complaint filed in August to have allegedly received campaign contributions exceeding legal limits from Boise residents Larry and Marriane Williams, who contributed $4,000 to his campaign, $1,000 over the legal limit.

"An elections official confirmed some of the contributions appear to have violated campaign finance laws, but said it’s up to candidates to handle incoming funds in ways that comply with the law," Kelcie Moseley-Morris wrote. "The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has not contacted Williams about the complaint."

Asked for a show of hands of those who knew about Jim Woodward’s work in the Idaho Senate before Tuesday’s meeting, all but three did, and one of those three said he just moved back to the area. Gini Woodward thanked Steve Johnson “for stepping up to defeat that man” and received enthusiastic applause at that.

After the meeting, Woodward added that she and her three sisters in North Idaho all are volunteers in Steve Johnson’s campaign.

“My sister Liz Stephenson owns the Paint Bucket," Gini said, "and my other sisters also live in Sandpoint and are helping there.”

Mike Weland contributed to this report

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Mike Weland, Publisher

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