With Democratic leaders from all levels of government at his back, Keith Allred rallied supporters and celebrated his entry into the 2010 gubernatorial race Thursday night.
The former college professor, mediator, and activist spoke to the energized crowd which braved the foggy night to meet at the Basque Center in Boise. Both pro-Allred and anti-Butch Otter campaign signs adorned the walls of the center and supporters waved American flags as Allred formally announced to the people of Boise his candidacy is official.
Allred related a few stories to the Democratic supporters, including one which ultimately led to the formation of The Common Interest, a public policy lobbying organization in Boise. He related a story in which he worked with Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to determine if Utah should ask the Bush administration to turn the San Rafael Swell into a national monument. Allred said he worked with a myriad of interest groups on the issue to gain a smart compromise for the plan and found an overall favorable opinion of the idea among the general public. He said he then took the idea to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and pitched it to Republican and Democratic staffers, who, Allred claimed, said “it was good public policy,” but they would need to oppose it because highly-mobilized factions of each party wouldn’t be able to compromise. Allred stated he left Capitol Hill “seething” and said it was that moment he was inspired put partisan differences aside to team with both Republicans and Democrats in Idaho to found The Common Interest.
With that frame of mind, Allred declared to his supporters gathered in the Basque Center that Idaho government must “Put the interests of all Idahoans ahead of the interests of the powerful and well-connected.” He also said Idaho needs “A leader with a track record of leadership, with a record of bringing people together to identify the common sense solutions that rise above partisanship and special interest influence.”
In a post-speech interview with IdahoReporter.com, Allred clarified both his ideological and practical positions on the issues. When asked if he was positioning himself as a centrist, Allred said he is an “active centrist, which is someone who believes good ideas come from anywhere.” He also said of the looming deficit in the state budget he would be in favor “closing any tax breaks in order to lower the tax rate.” He went on to say that closing tax breaks and lowering the rates would allow Idaho to “Unleash small businesses.”
On the shortage in transportation funding, Allred said the funding mechanism will need to “Be a user fee that you pay proportional to the wear and tear and demand you put on it.” Allred said he is a proponent of pay-by-the-mile funding, but believes it is not yet technologically feasible.
To those in attendance, Allred’s jump into the race was welcomed with open arms.
State Democratic Rep. Bill Killen, who introduced Allred to the public, said he believes Allred is “The kind of person that can solve problems, not create them,” and “the kind of person that will put the people of Idaho front and center.”
State Rep. Branden Durst, a Democrat from Boise, said Allred’s candidacy is “A positive development, not only for the Democratic Party, but also for the people of Idaho.” When asked on which issues Allred would be an improvement over Otter, Durst replied, “Every issue and that speaks volumes about Keith, but it also speaks volumes about Butch.”
Durst and Killen were joined at the event by state Senators Elliot Werk and Nicole LeFavour, Boise City Councilman-elect TJ Thompson, as well as former Democratic state Rep. Margaret Henbest, who will serve as Allred’s treasurer. Boise Mayor Dave Bieter was not able to attend, but was represented in a letter read to the crowd by Thomspon in which Bieter welcomed Allred to the race and declared Allred has “His full support.”