Idaho’s GOP gubernatorial primary is still nine months away, but the three top candidates — Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador — are already in campaign mode.
Some highlights in recent weeks from each of their campaigns:
▪ Announced a term limits and ethics reform plan calling for term limits for statewide elected officials, increased accountability and transparency measures, simple taxpayer protections, and lobbying and campaign finance reforms. He would seek to limit statewide elected officials to two four-year terms, and require elected officials to disclose sources of personal income and details of state-funded out-of-state travel. He would also ban campaign contributions during the legislative session and prohibit government officials convicted of a felony while in office from receiving a taxpayer-funded pension.
“Idahoans want a fresh approach and new ideas for tackling our state’s biggest challenges, not more talk and no action,” Ahlquist said a news release. “The time has come for real state government reform that includes both term limits and ethics reforms. When professional politicians spend too much time in office, they lose touch with the realities of what Idaho families and businesses face — and as a result, put the needs of special interests ahead of the needs of taxpayers. Idaho also needs increased transparency in government, lobbying and campaigns, and simple taxpayer protections to better secure Idaho’s future — and as a political outsider I have a plan to do just that.”
▪ Will launch a 44 counties in 44 days tour starting Sept. 21 in Meridian and ending Nov. 4 in Valley County. During the tour, Ahlquist will hold public events in each county.
▪ Announced statewide co-chairs, including three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, Idaho Timber Corp. and Tree Top Ranches founder Larry Williams, LCF Enterprises and STEM Revolution President Lorna Finman, Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd and Pickett Ranch owner Doug Pickett.
▪ Announced Scott Phillips as the campaign’s senior strategist and spokesman.
Phillips, a former Republican Party executive director, has spent the past 20 years running local, legislative, statewide and federal campaigns.
Prior to leaving state government in mid-August, Phillips served as a deputy controller for State Controllers Brandon Woolf and Donna Jones, and as a deputy chief of staff under Jim Risch when he was Idaho’s governor.
“After Scott decided to leave the Idaho Controller’s Office in mid-August, Becca and I met with him and his family to discuss our campaign and my vision for a stronger and brighter Idaho,” Labrador said in a news release. “Scott is one of the most capable and talented individuals I’ve worked with in the conservative movement in the state. He brings a level of expertise and a drive to win that enhances our campaign’s ability to execute our statewide plan.”
▪ Announced phases one and two of his three-phase “Idaho Grown Jobs Plan.”
Phase one focuses on creating opportunities for Idaho’s young people, making health care more affordable and relieving burdens on job creators. Little proposes creating pretax savings accounts for first-time homebuyers. He would also seek to increase rural and urban student/worker access to workforce training, require state agencies to review every regulation, enact a Licensing Freedom Act, enhance the existing health care exchange and build incentives for health savings accounts.
“Unlike the federal government, Idaho has a model that fosters growth, not hindering entrepreneurs who are making Idaho one of the best places to live. But for us to stay competitive, we need to be vigilant,” Little said in a news release. “I will lead a state government that enables the free market to bring jobs and prosperity to our state, eliminating burdensome taxes and regulations that stifle economic and job growth.”
Phase two calls for cutting taxes and reducing government spending. Little says he would cut the income tax by $350 million, eliminate the grocery tax, mandate all new tax exemptions be linked to a proportional reduction in state spending, cut unemployment taxes, increase the personal property tax exemption to $250,000, and give counties the authority to fully or partially remove personal property taxes.
“By cutting Idaho’s income tax by $350 million, we can ensure that Idahoans keep more of their hard-earned money,” Little said in a news release. “... Anyone can talk about cutting taxes and government down to size; I have a proven record of cutting taxes, and I’m committed to building a tax system for Idaho that’s fair, simple, predictable and competitive.”
Note: Just one Democrat has announced plans to run for governor, Troy Minton, of Boise. He has not been actively campaigning.