Former Kennedy School professor Keith G. Allred announced last Thursday his intention to run as the Democratic candidate in the 2010 race for the governorship of Idaho.
The self-described “dynamic centrist” said he hopes that his moderate stances and ability to work across party lines will give him an edge in the race toward the top political spot in the “red state.”
“It’s not very typical for a former Harvard professor to run for public office in Idaho, and it creates a bit of stir,” Allred said. “But I’m a fifth generation Idahoan. I grew up working summers on my family cattle ranch. It makes me an interesting combination.”
“It’s true that he has an Ivy League education,” said Betty H. Richardson, Allred’s campaign manager. “But it would be hard to find someone who is more Idaho than Keith Allred.”
During his time at Harvard, Allred was active in bringing his interest in Idaho to
Joseph P. Kalt, who worked with Allred on negotiations between a Native American tribe in Idaho and the local government. After leaving Harvard in 2003, Allred brought his work back to Idaho through the formation of a non-partisan citizen’s group.
Known as The Common Interest, the group brings together over 1,000 Idahoans of diverse political backgrounds to form policy recommendations. Allred said yesterday that his work with The Common Interest has given him a reputation for reaching across party lines and noted that the governorship would allow him to more effectively continue this project.
“I’m dedicated, independent, committed to finding practical solutions that rise above partisan relations,” Allred said. “I think that good ideas and good people come from across the political spectrum.”
The Democratic Party’s support of Allred’s bi-partisan approach encouraged him to join the race, he said. The former professor said he was concerned that the recent Republican governments have not reflected the views of the 60 to 65 percent of Idahoans who consider themselves moderates.
“It’s become increasingly unrepresentative of the constituency of Idaho,” he said, adding that the strong conservative stance of the Republican party has “opened a window for a Democrat, as long as that Democrat is a moderate.”
One of the major focuses of Allred’s campaign will be to prevent the domination of special interest groups—a concern he said stemmed from his work at the Kennedy School.
Allred said special interests have overshadowed the current administration in his state, causing the needs of ordinary citizens to become a secondary concern. The incumbent Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter is Allred’s expected opponent in the general election if Allred wins the Democratic primary.
Allred intends to move tax breaks away from special interests like heavy trucking—which Otter has supported—and towards small businesses in order to better stimulate job creation and overall economic growth.
“He’s been dedicated to Idaho from the time he was growing up. He knows more about the politics of Idaho than anyone I know,” Kalt said. “I think he’s cut out for the job.”
—Staff writer Stephanie B. Garlock can be reached at email@example.com.