In the May 23 primary, conservative state Representative Bill Sali edged out a crowded field to win the Republican nomination with 26%, while Larry Grant won the Democratic nomination. Sali is a controversial figure in Idaho politics who clashed repeatedly with Republican leadership in the Idaho Legislature. Some of Sali's Republican detractors publicly said that they would back Grant in the general election. All this gave Grant a boost in the general election, but Sali remained favored given the GOP tilt of the area and the popular Otter at the top of the ticket. Grant made gains late in the campaign, but Sali held on to win.
This district encompasses Eastern Idaho, the Magic Valley, and most of the city of Boise. Republican incumbent Michael Simpson, who has never faced much electoral difficulty, defeated Democratic nominee Jim Hansen in the general election, along with several independent candidates.