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News >  Idaho

Democrat announces candidacy

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

BOISE – A legal stationery store owner from Coeur d’Alene has become the second Democrat to announce his candidacy for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat – a race that’s also drawn half a dozen Republican candidates.

“I’m not happy with the way our country is going,” said Cecil Kelly, 61. “I see a weakening of our human rights stances. I see us having a whole set of problems that aren’t being taken care of at the present time.”

Plus, Kelly said, “There’s a personal reason – I just want to run one last time.”

Kelly has made two unsuccessful runs for office, once in the Democratic primary for a Kootenai County commission seat and the other time running unopposed in the primary for a legislative seat, only to step aside in favor of another candidate for the general election, who then lost to the Republican.

“Usually there’s a standard rule in politics that you can run three times for political office, and then you’re no longer considered a viable candidate,” Kelly said. “It’s like baseball – three times and you’re out.”

Kelly is a longtime Democratic activist who’s lived in Coeur d’Alene all his life and has owned the Law Shop of North Idaho, a store that sells legal forms for things like uncontested divorces, name changes, adoptions and rental agreements, since 1983. He’s worked to include support for activities such as hunting and skeet-shooting in the party platform, getting the local Democratic Club to display an American flag at its meetings, and human rights issues.

“I do what’s ethically and morally correct rather than what’s politically right, and it causes all sorts of conflicts, but at least I can sleep at night,” Kelly said.

Some of those conflicts have been with his own local party leaders. Kelly said they pressured him to step aside in his legislative bid in 1996 because he wasn’t part of their “inner circle.”

He’s a 20-year member of the Chamber of Commerce, where he worked to reform the way chamber board members are selected. Kelly also has worked on the women’s center crisis line and served five years on the Children’s Village board of directors.

“I’ve worked either the Democrat booth or the human rights booth at the fair for the last 20 years,” he said.

In the May primary, he’ll face former Micron Technology vice president and general counsel Larry Grant of Fruitland. “I’ve heard rumors there’s a third one – who knows how many others will pop in,” Kelly said. “We got six on the other side.”

Republicans in the race so far include state Controller Keith Johnson, current state legislators Skip Brandt of Kooskia and Bill Sali of Kuna, former state Sen. Sheila Sorensen of Boise, Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez, and Idaho Water Users Association chief Norm Semanko.

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