Capitol & State

GOP's Smylie endorses Democrat A.J. Balukoff over Gov. Butch Otter

Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff has the endorsement of former Republican Rep. Steve Smylie of Boise — the son of the only Idaho Republican to serve three four-year terms, the late-Gov. Bob Smylie.

Smylie said in a news release from the Balukoff campaign that he'd never endorsed a Democrat but is backing Balukoff as "one of the finest men I know....A.J. Balukoff is honest, experienced, knowledgeable, and leads with a style that seeks consensus, not ideology."

Smylie, a former junior high school teacher, now teaches as an adjunct at Boise State University. He saluted Balukoff's role as a longtime Boise school trustee, saying in last week's news release, "His leadership on the Boise School Board has made the district one of the best in the nation."

Smylie served eight years in the Legislature, retiring in 2006 to run for the GOP nomination for Idaho superintendent of public instruction, a race he lost by 893 votes to Tom Luna.

Smylie was a critic of the 2011 "Students Come First" laws championed by Luna and Gov. Butch Otter, who seeks to equal Smylie's father's record for GOP tenure as Idaho's chief executive. Voters repealed the reforms, called the "Luna Laws" by critics, in 2012.

Last week's news release also included expected endorsements from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and former School Board Member Bev Harad.

But a second Republican, Best Bath Systems owner Gary Multanen, also endorsed Balukoff.

Multanan met Balukoff 25 years ago as fellow members of the Boise Sunrise Rotary Club, where Balukoff still plays piano.

Multanan said he's voted for Otter "in every election for which I was eligible," but now wants a change.

"...I’m tired of Idaho ranking first or second from the bottom in numerous meaningful categories including: investment in education, percentage of minimum wage, and per capita income," Multanan said in the release. "There is no honor in leading the nation in the percentage of minimum wage jobs.”

The full news release follows:

BALUKOFF ANNOUNCES ENDORSEMENTS FROM PROMINENT DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS

BOISE, Idaho—Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff announced today endorsements from prominent political, community, and business leaders from both major parties. Those included Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, community leader Bev Harad of Boise, former Idaho Republican State Rep. Steve Smylie, and businessman Gary Multanen.

“Their experience and commitment to our communities is entirely in line with my philosophy and approach to making organizations and businesses stronger and the approach I will take to making state government work better for all Idahoans,” Balukoff said.

“It is time for a governor like A.J.,” Mayor Bieter said. “He knows how to run a business, and he knows education from the inside out. He's knows how to bring the right kind of people together behind the right ideas. He's exactly what Idaho needs right now."

“I'm endorsing A.J. because of his knowledge of finances, his knowledge of business strategy, his engagement in the community, his willingness to always be there for his family, don't these encompass all the things you feel are important for Idaho?" said Bev Harad, a former Boise School Board trustee who has been active for many years in various community organizations.

“I've known A.J. for nearly 30 years. He is one of the finest men I know. In an age in which most politicians can only talk, A.J. leads. His accounting firm handled our family's finances with perfect integrity. His leadership on the Boise School Board made the district one of the best in the nation. His personal life reflects traditional Idaho values. He works hard, and is a good listener. In short, A.J. Balukoff is the kind of principled leader that Idaho has lacked,” said Steve Smylie. “As a lifelong Republican, I have never endorsed a member of the other party, but I am this year because A.J. Balukoff is honest, experienced, knowledgeable, and leads with a style that seeks consensus, not ideology.” Smylie served as District 15 representative from 1998 to 2004 and was a past candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.

“I’ve known A.J. for 25 years through the Boise Sunrise Rotary. I’ve been a registered Republican since moving to Idaho in 1972. I’ve voted for Butch Otter in every election in which I was eligible. But I’m tired of Idaho ranking first or second from the bottom in numerous meaningful categories including: investment in education, percentage of minimum wage, and per capita income. There is no honor in leading the nation in the percentage of minimum wage jobs,” said Gary Multanen. “It’s only when our customers have disposable income that affords them the ability to support our businesses that we have the opportunity to be successful. For those reasons, I'm supporting A.J. Balukoff for governor. I urge you to do the same.” Multanen is the owner of Best Bath Systems, which employs 87 people headquartered in Caldwell.

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