Idaho's 2010 governor's race, which was already shaping up to be a doozie, got a bit more interesting last week with the entry of a viable and surprising Democrat. Kieth Allred, who has spent the past half-decade building a bipartisan coalition of policy wonks across the state, signed on with Idaho Democrats to challenge Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter--should he emerge from the May Republican primary.
Speaking of the primary, recall that Ada County Commissioner Sharon Ullman is seeking her party's nomination and that Otter has not begun to campaign actively. Also in the GOP fray, jokester Pete Peterson, who tells citydesk he will stop campaigning after the New Year because people all over the world will have already downloaded his "PETE" yard signs.
A guy named Lee Chaney has said he'll run as a Democrat, though his Web site does not portray him as one. But the race has also drawn independent contenders, primarily former GOP State Rep. Jana Kemp, actively campaigning for months now. But also now-perennial candidate and large-animal veterinarian Rex Rammell, actively campaigning for years now. Oh, and Pro-Life--the man, not the issue.
Enter Allred, who has plenty of name and rep among Idaho's political class, on both sides of the aisle. Allred is mainly an academic, who started his public speaking career at Twin Falls High School. He returns there this week to announce his candidacy.
Allred, who can claim academic appointments at Harvard, Oxford and ... Boise State, runs a group called The Common Interest, which produces consensus policy briefings on the issues of the day in Idaho.
The group's research has even drawn praise from Otter, who called it, "a well-researched, facts-based voice of reason," adding that he may not always agree with the group's conclusions.
So why is Allred running for governor, and why as a Democrat? In a letter to Common Interest supporters, Allred explained that Democratic talent searcher Betty Richardson came to him (and, of course, his wife) making it clear that they were not seeking an overtly partisan candidate.
"She assured us that her expectation was that I would campaign and govern just as I had led The Common Interest ... the party wanted to embrace that approach," Allred said.
Allred believes in his process of making laws--gathering facts, discussing options and coming to consensus. And he has designs on the Republic: "We realized that it would be the most powerful route available to advance the vision of making The Common Interest a potent force in all 50 states and at the federal level by the time of our nation's 250th anniversary," Allred continued in his letter.