BOISE — Saying it’s time to “restore the balance” in the Idaho Statehouse, Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad filed paperwork Thursday outlining a written gubernatorial nominee.
“I decided to run because Idaho is rapidly moving more and more toward extremism, and Idaho voters deserve to choose whether or not that’s the direction they want to go,” he said. said Rognstad during a brief press conference on the Statehouse steps.
About a dozen people attended the event, including former Democratic gubernatorial candidate AJ Balukoff, who serves as Rognstad’s campaign treasurer.
Former Democratic congressmen Larry LaRocco and Walt Minnick were also there to offer their support.
Rognstad pointed to Gov. Brad Little’s signing of two controversial anti-abortion bills on Wednesday as an example of why Idaho should move away from the one-party dominance Republicans have enjoyed for nearly 30 years.
“Just yesterday, Governor Little signed an anti-choice bill that criminalized women, doctors and nurses – a bill he himself believes is unconstitutional,” he said. declared. “(The bill) weakens our freedoms because it gives a rapist’s family more rights than the survivor herself. But he signed it anyway, because he’s afraid of standing up to his own party’s extremists in the primaries.
Before he can fight Republicans, however, Rognstad must win the Democratic nomination in the May 17 gubernatorial primary.
This relatively simple task turned into a more difficult written campaign two weeks ago, when Rognstad missed out on its first application documents.
He did not file his declaration of candidacy until the last day of the nomination period. The Idaho secretary of state’s office rejected the paperwork because he was running as a Democrat, but was registered to vote as a Republican. He changed his online registration, but not before the deadline for submission expired.
That left Marsing’s Stephen Heidt as the only Democrat on the official list of candidates. Heidt has not filed any campaign finance returns and does not appear to be actively campaigning.
Rognstad initially lambasted the secretary of state’s decision, threatening legal action and claiming that “a Republican secretary of state worked with a Republican attorney general to unlawfully block a Democratic candidate from running for governor.”
He took a different approach on Thursday, saying after 15 years of public service: “One thing I’ve learned about leadership is to recognize when you’re making a mistake.”
“Let’s be clear: I take full responsibility for filing my (first) candidate statement on the last day and not verifying my party affiliation,” he said. “Next time I’ll drop off earlier and check my registration, like I did this morning.”
Registered candidates have until 5 p.m. Friday to submit their application.
While describing himself as a proud Democrat, Rognstad said he chose to register as a Republican because in Bonner County, the Republican primary is often the only time voters have a choice of who to vote for. represented.
“Having choice in the electoral process is essential for the health and sustainability of democracy, and I take it very seriously,” he said.
To succeed as a write-in candidate, Rognstad will need to get at least 1,000 write-in votes, as well as more votes than Heidt.
Perhaps fortunately, the spelling of his name doesn’t need to be exactly correct for the vote to count.
“We always start from intent,” said Chad Houck, chief assistant secretary of state.
Idaho Code 34-1203 states that “where a ballot is clear enough to determine a portion of the voter’s intent, it shall be the duty of the (election) judges to count that portion.”
Nonetheless, Rognstad said his written campaign will try to familiarize voters with his name.
“Maybe we’ll find a jingle,” he said.