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Huckleberries Online

Huckleberries Interviews AJ Balukoff

Democrat AJ Balukoff is shown during gubernatorial debate earlier this fall at the Coeur d'Alene Library. (Photo: Duane Rasmussen)

  • Huckleberries: What's the A.J. stand for?
  • A.J.: Anthony Joseph. My father's name was Anthony, my mother's name was Josephine. When I was born, my father was in the Navy, so they would write letters to one another. They didn't want to call me Tony because that's what my father was called. They didn't want to call me Joe because that's what my mom was called. So they called me A.J. And it stuck.
  • Huckleberries: Win or lose, what long-term impact will your candidacy have on the state of Idaho?
  • A.J. One of my main goals in getting into the race was to elevate discussion & attention of public education, to where constitution said it would be. I've done that. Even Butch & (Lt. Gov. Brad Little) are talking education now.
  • Huckleberries: What is something you know about North Idaho now that you didn't know when campaign began?
  • A.J. I know a lot of people that I didn't know before. That's what has been fun on this campaign -- meeting people from all over Idaho. As I've attended different kinds of events, like the Human Rights dinner here in Coeur d'Alene, I've enjoyed the great folks. I also know you can get a great ice cream cone at the Elmira Store.
  • Huckleberries: How can you be effective as a Democratic governor when GOP legislators will be working against you?
  • A.J. How effective has Gov. Otter been? Your question presumes that we're going to have trouble working together. I don't believe that's necessarily true. I've been going to the Legislature for 17 years that I've been on the school board, and I know a lot of legislators. We've been talking about the need to work together to solve problems to help people of Idaho. I'm not going to be elected to further a partisan agenda.
  • Huckleberries: Are you the type of guy that the Average Joe or Jane be comfortable having a beer with you?
  • A.J. Yeah, except being a Mormon, I don't drink beer. I'll buy them the beer & drink a root beer.
  • Huckleberries: Republicans try to paint you as an Obama acolyte. How do you differ philosophically from the president?
  • A.J. There's a big difference between an Idaho Democrat and a Washington, D.C., Democrat. Idaho Democrats are not liberal. I know in the ads they accuse me of being a liberal. I doubt there is enough evidence to convict me. I'm pretty moderate. A centrist. Funny when I read those (Republican Governors Association) ads that try to tie me to Obama. I gave money to Mitt Romney during the last election.
  • Huckleberries: What's with the bow tie?
  • A.J. I like bow ties. They're more festive. I know how to tie them. And I don't have to worry about the tie getting in my soup.


D.F. Oliveria
D.F. (Dave) Oliveria joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a columnist and compiles the Huckleberries Online blog and writes about North Idaho in his Huckleberries column.

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