Election Central

Democrat Balukoff looks likely to enter 2014 Idaho governor’s race

Boise School Board Trustee A.J. Balukoff will announce whether he’ll run for governor on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Hillcrest Elementary School. According to a media advisory from the Idaho Democratic Party, the public is invited to attend — a strong signal Balukoff will make the race.

Balukoff has been on the school board for 16 years and helped defeat the “Students Come First” school reforms at the polls in 2012, which were supported by two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter.

Balukoff’s business experience is a plus. He ran his own accounting firm and has been on the board of St. Luke’s Treasure Valley. Since 1998, he’s been part-owner of Century Link Arena, the Idaho Steelheads and the Grove Hotel. His seven-partner group, WC/WLDC Idaho LLC, owns all three businesses together with the J.R. Simplot Trust.

In October, Balukoff told me he would decide on the race by Thanksgiving, after a goose-hunting trip.

I think it’s highly likely Balukoff will run. But I’m not dead sure, as I was on Nov. 20 when a press advisory from Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher said he would announce whether to challenge Otter in the GOP primary at stops in in Meridian, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls.

Balukoff could use the press attention to advance his views on education. But the locale and the inclusion of the public suggest he’s in.

Another clue I noticed after first posting this bit: Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News spotted a premature release of Balukoff’s announcement on Facebook. Hard to imagine going to the trouble of writing such a thing if Balukoff weren’t pulling the trigger.

The advisory follows:

Press Advisory: Boise Businessman to Announce Decision for Idaho Gov. Race

Boise, Idaho—Businessman and Boise School Board Chairman A.J. Balukoff will announce his decision regarding a campaign to run for Idaho Governor at a press conference at Hillcrest Elementary School in Boise tomorrow.

What:             Announcement of decision regarding Idaho Governor’s race

When:            11 a.m., Dec. 3

Where:           Hillcrest Elementary School; 2045 S. Pond Street, Boise, Idaho

Press and public are invited to attend.


Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics