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Northern Idaho mayor announces run for governor as Democrat


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LEWISTON (AP) — A northern Idaho mayor has announced he’s running for governor.

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad said Monday in Lewiston that he’s running as a Democrat to defeat first-term Republican Gov. Brad Little.

The 47-year-old Rognstad said he’s running to break the one-party lock Republicans have had on the state for 30 years.

“For the better part of a generation, Idaho has effectively been a one-party state,” Rongstad said, the Lewiston Tribune reported. “There are no checks and balances, no compromise, no accountability. This is dangerous. The most extreme voices now go unopposed. Common sense leadership has been replaced by authoritarianism and culture wars.”

Democrats have not held the governor’s office since 1995 or statewide elected office since 2007. Only 12 of the 70 House members are Democrats, and Senate Democrats hold only seven of 35 seats.

The Idaho secretary of state’s website lists Rognstad as the second Democrat to join the race. The other Democrat is Melissa Sue Robinson, 70, a transgender woman who owned a construction company before shifting to a career in telecommunications. She lists adequately funding education as a top goal.

The race also includes eight Republicans listed as actively campaigning on the secretary of state’s website. Little hasn’t yet announced his reelection plans but is expected to run and has been fundraising.

Rognstad, who has been Sandpoint’s mayor since 2015, made his announcement at the Lewis Clark Hotel in Lewiston, speaking to about 30 people.

“Right here, at the historic Lewis Clark Hotel, John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech,” Rognstad said. “Right here, (future four-time Gov.) Cecil Andrus was inspired by Kennedy’s words to run for office. Right here, right now, we can restore the balance of power in Idaho. We can stand up to extremism and work together on the issues that unite us. We can bring common sense leadership back to Idaho.”

Rognstad noted he was born and raised in Lewiston, and is a fourth-generation Idaho resident. He said Lewiston is where his great-grandfather opened Rognstad Insurance.

“My family cultivated values in me — values like hard work and service,” he said. “They taught me the importance of family and community. They also shared with me an entrepreneurial spirit.”