Former GOP state schools Superintendent Jerry Evans today endorsed Democrat A.J. Balukoff for governor of Idaho, over two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter. "We simply cannot afford four more years of going in the wrong direction,” Evans said. “It is time to thank Gov. Otter for his service and to wish him well in retirement."
Evans, who served as Idaho’s elected state schools superintendent from 1979 to 1995, said, "I have watched what’s happening to our schools with growing concern and frustration for several years. Despite an abundance of political talk to the contrary, Idaho’s public schools have been all but abandoned by our state’s leaders. We are not living up to our state constitution’s mandate to 'maintain a general, uniform and thorough' system of public schools.”
"As a lifelong Republican, it’s not easy for me to endorse a candidate from another party,” Evans said. “But it is with enthusiasm that I endorse A.J. Balukoff’s bid to be Idaho’s next governor. He has a long record of support for public schools and as a leader on the Boise School Board. He has deep experience building successful businesses and helping lead many non-profits. He knows what it takes to produce success.”
Balukoff called Evans’ endorsement “a great honor,” and said, “His endorsement sends a message to educators, parents, and everyone who cares about education that Gov. Otter has failed our children and our public schools. That's why I'm running for governor." Balukoff said Evans is “widely considered to be one of the best state school superintendents that Idaho has ever had.”
Kaycee Emery, spokeswoman for Otter’s campaign, noted that Evans also endorsed Democratic challenger Keith Allred over Otter in 2010; Otter won. “Our only comment would be education continues to be a top priority for Gov. Otter, and as he’s said before and continues to say, he is committed to implementing the education task force’s 20 recommendations over the next five years,” she said. “And that’s all part of his commitment to build a brighter future for Idahoans.”