Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is seeking a second term in office at a time when the state is facing historic budget cuts and high unemployment, and after he’s failed twice to push through his major legislative initiative, to increase funding for the state’s roads and bridges.
Otter is facing four challengers, led by Democrat Keith Allred, who was a nonpartisan citizen activist, professor and professional mediator before he agreed to run for governor under the Democratic Party’s banner. Allred’s been critical of Otter’s record and promises a more inclusive style of leadership, while Otter says he balanced the state budget in tough times without raising taxes.
Former moderate Republican state lawmaker Jana Kemp is running as an independent; so is organic strawberry farmer Marvin Richardson, who legally changed his name to Pro-Life and will be so listed on the ballot. Also in the race is Libertarian Ted Dunlap.
Idaho’s governor serves a four-year term; the current salary is $115,348 per year, plus health care benefits.
• Butch Otter , 68
Bio: Current governor, served three terms in Congress, representing 1st District; rancher; lieutenant governor, 1987-2000; executive, J.R. Simplot Co., 1965-1993; state representative, 1973-1976; Idaho Army National Guard veteran; bachelor’s degree, College of Idaho. Married, four children and five grandchildren.
Campaign promises: “I am committed to keep working tirelessly to grow Idaho’s economy and career opportunities for our citizens and our communities; I promise to keep protecting the people of Idaho from the additional financial burden of government excess; I promise to do even more to ensure that state government lives within the people’s means; I promise to keep protecting and improving educational opportunities for all Idahoans; I promise to promote greater liberty, wider opportunity and more economic prosperity; and I promise to keep protecting Idaho’s family and faith-based values.”
Notable: Otter is a rodeo enthusiast who still competes from time to time in team roping; he has a long tradition of entering rodeos around the state as he campaigns for office.
• Keith Allred , 46
Bio: Founder and president of The Common Interest, a nonpartisan citizen group; professional mediator; taught conflict resolution and leadership, first as a professor at Columbia University and then at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; bachelor’s degree, Stanford University; Ph.D. in organizational behavior/conflict resolution, UCLA. Married, three children.
Campaign promises: “I have two main priorities: lower taxes to help small businesses generate more jobs, and a stronger education system. We cannot build a great state without making sure we give all of our kids an equal opportunity for a great education.”
Notable: Allred is a horseman who twice competed in the National Cutting Horse Association championships, in 2003 and 2004; he still keeps horses and goes on trail rides with his family.