Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist is taking heat for donations he made to Democratic candidates between 2014 and 2016. The Kootenai County GOP Committee passed a resolution condemning Ahlquist for his political contributions and questioning his Republican allegiance.
The Boise businessman hasn’t shied away from records showing he contributed $8,000 to Democrats and non-partisan candidates. When asked about it in Lewiston last week, he said he’s given much more to Republicans. The Spokesman Review reports since the year 2000, Ahlquist contributed nearly $22,000 to conservative organizations and candidates.
Justin Vaughn, an associate professor of political science at Boise State, says this shouldn’t be a problem. He points to President Trump.
“It’s a reality I think of being a business owner and economic leader,” Vaughn says. “Just like for Donald Trump, it was a business reality. You can’t be a business leader by only working with one of the parties. And when you’re a nontraditional candidate, or private sector candidate or a change candidate, then the likelihood is you’re going to have a mixed record.”
Vaughn, who teaches a course at the university with Ahlquist’s senior strategist, says Kootenai County, where the denunciation originated, would be a difficult region for a developer from Boise to win. Vaughn’s tip to Ahlquist?
“My advice would be: Level with the people, explain what you did and why you did it, and explain what you’re going to do in the future,” says Vaughn. “It seems to be pretty much what he and his campaign have done.”
Although one member of the Kootenai County GOP Committee tried adding an amendment softening the group’s position, it failed.
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