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Allred: An admitted unlikely governor candidate

by Tom Hasslinger
| April 14, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - It's a position in which the former Harvard professor never thought he would find himself, vying as a Democrat to be Idaho's governor.

But after four months on the campaign trail, Keith Allred knows he made the right choice to run for office - an announcement that shocked many in Idaho's political scene back in December.

"There is an anti-incumbent, anti-politics-as-usual attitude that is very deep out there," Allred said Tuesday in a meeting with Press staff as part of a North Idaho campaign tour. "I get a sense that's not what our politics are supposed to be about."

Instead, it should be about bipartisan partnerships working for the benefit of Idaho's citizens.

And Allred, a founder of the citizen advocacy group The Common Interest, has a history of doing just that. But in order to implement his all-party approach to doing politics, Allred first went blue.

"The Democratic Party knocked on my door and asked if I'd be their candidate," he said. "The surprising thing about that is I haven't been a Democrat."

But the party convinced him it would adopt his Common Interest approach rather than expect him to practice partisanship, and Allred issued a letter to the roughly 1,500 members - whose legislative successes include reducing homeowners' property taxes, protecting private property rights against government abuse of eminent domain and protecting the public's access to legislative meetings - announcing his intentions to run.

On Tuesday he outlined his goals as governor, including improving public education funding and cutting out unnecessary tax exemptions to reduce overall tax rates.

He said Idaho is constitutionally required to "thoroughly provide for public education," and the current administration missed the mark this year when it cut around $128 million from its budget.

He pointed to several revenue projections, including one provided by the Association of Idaho Taxpayers, that forecasted around $80 million more in the budget than was adopted. An increase in tax collecting staff to chase overdue taxes was projected to net $60 million more, but that staff wasn't increased so that money wasn't collected, either.

"You have multiple options that would have protected our investment in our kids," he said, calling the funding cuts "reckless."

As governor, Allred said he would model a scholarship program for children like one in Indiana that provides financial and educational assistance for at-risk children who maintain certain grade-point averages while avoiding arrests.

He also said eliminating certain tax breaks would lower the overall tax rates and benefit small businesses.

He said he would survey populations in each Idaho district on major issues facing the state, and adopt the approach of the majority, which is the method the Common Interest used taking stances on legislative measures and how it gained bipartisan support.

Allred taught at Columbia University and then for seven years on the faculty of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where his specialties included negotiation, conflict resolution, persuasion, and individual and group decision making.

A fifth generation Idahoan who grew up in Twin Falls, he moved back to Idaho in 2003. He lives in Eagle with his wife and three children.

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