BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Democratic candidate Anthony Joseph “A.J.” Balukoff on Wednesday officially launched his campaign to be the governor of Republican-dominant Idaho.
Balukoff, 71, kicked off a multi-day statewide tour promising to fight for more funding for education, improvements to the state’s health care system and better protections for public lands.
Balukoff unsuccessfully ran for political office for the first time in 2014 as a Democratic candidate against Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Notably, Balukoff spent more than $3 million of his funds only to win nearly 39 percent of the vote to 54 percent for Otter
Otter has since said he won’t run for a fourth term, creating a competitive opening for the state’s top elected position.
“A lot of the reasons that caused me to run in 2014 have not been resolved,” Balukoff said in a phone interview. “Not a lot has changed.”
Balukoff filed paperwork to be a gubernatorial candidate in November. At the time, Balukoff said he needed time to organize his campaign team and start fundraising before he began formally campaigning around the state.
Balukoff faces state Rep. Paulette Jordan, a Democrat from Plummer, in the May primary election.
All seven of Idaho’s statewide elected officials have hailed from the GOP since 2006. The last time Idaho voters elected a Democrat to the top seat was former Gov. Cecil Andrus in 1990. Andrus, who died earlier this year, served four non-consecutive terms in Idaho.
Balukoff has served on the Boise School Board since 1997 and works as an accountant and businessman who co-owns Boise’s Grove Hotel and CenturyLink Arena. He is well-known for wearing bow ties and is a prominent member of the Mormon church.