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Ahlquist wins endorsement from prominent young Trump backers Candace Owens and Charlie Kirk

UPDATED: Mon., April 30, 2018, 10:06 p.m.

Conservative commentator Candace Owens, right, speaks at a press conference in Boise endorsing Tommy Ahlquist for governor of Idaho on Monday, April 30, 2018, along with Charlie Kirk, center, and Ahlquist, left. (Betsy Z. Russell / The Spokesman-Review)
Conservative commentator Candace Owens, right, speaks at a press conference in Boise endorsing Tommy Ahlquist for governor of Idaho on Monday, April 30, 2018, along with Charlie Kirk, center, and Ahlquist, left. (Betsy Z. Russell / The Spokesman-Review)

BOISE – Tommy Ahlquist, a GOP candidate for governor of Idaho, was endorsed by two young prominent Trump supporters on Monday – Charlie Kirk, who was the millennial director of the Trump campaign, and Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who rails against the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We have a disruptor in D.C. – now we need a disruptor in Boise,” Kirk declared, joining Ahlquist and Owens at a news conference on the 17th floor of the Zions Bank Building, the tallest building in Idaho, and one that Ahlquist built. Ahlquist, a first-time candidate, is a former emergency-room doctor, developer and entrepreneur.

Kirk and Owens have been meeting with hip-hop artist Kanye West over the past week, whose pro-Trump tweets have aroused national controversy; Owens claims credit for West endorsing Trump, and last week, West tweeted, “I love the way Candace Owens thinks.”

“Tommy’s a close personal friend – that’s why we’re taking our personal time to come do this, because extraordinary leaders need to be put at high levels to be able to do extraordinary things,” Kirk said.

Owens said, “I met Tommy about a year ago, and I loved everything about what he was saying, what he wanted to do in Boise. And we’re really passionate, Charlie and I, about helping the right people get into leadership positions across the country.”

Ahlquist is locked in a hot GOP primary race for governor in which rival Raul Labrador, an incumbent GOP congressman and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, has made much of his ties to Trump, for whom he traveled the country on the campaign stump when few other members of Congress would endorse the presidential hopeful.

“I know him well – as you know, he interviewed me for one of the cabinet posts,” Labrador said last week.

Labrador interviewed at Trump Tower in December 2016; though he wasn’t selected for an administration post, Labrador called it a “great, great meeting.”

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little also says he supports the Trump administration, saying that while he differs in style, “I just see great advancement. … This administration wants to give us authority back over education, resource management, health care.” Little is also running for governor.

Kirk, a 23-year-old who founded a nonprofit in 2012, Turning Point USA, that works to build a conservative movement on college campuses, said of Alhquist, “What Tommy’s trying to do here in Boise, what he is going to do as governor, reminds me a lot of what the president is doing in D.C.”

“He’s a businessman, he can’t be bought by special interests, he has a pro-growth agenda,” Kirk said. “Creative solutions, thinking outside the box, not beholden to party leadership or special interests.”

Ahlquist said he expects the two young conservatives’ activities this week to “break the internet, I am positive.”

As Kirk and Owens, who is Turning Point’s communications director, rode down the elevator from the news conference, they excitedly discussed plans for the next day, discussing a 7 a.m. fitting for Owens and the need for additional security “with Kanye.”


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