One of three candidates for the Republican nomination for Idaho governor has earned the endorsement of a national heavy hitter among the GOP.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Rmoney has endorsed Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist, who is facing Congressman Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the Republican primary. Romney says Ahlquist's experience as both a businessman and a physician qualifies the political newcomer to be the state's chief executive.
Boise State University political science professor Jaclyn Kettler says while endorsements this early may not be a big factor in growing the vote total, they can be a signal. "...to other key actors like party elites or major donors that this is a quality candidate that we should be supporting," Kettler says.
Romney is a high profile endorsement in the intermountain West due to his prominence as a member of the LDS Church and his success running the 2002 Olympics hosted in Salt Lake City. Both Ahlquist and Labrador are Mormons.
Romney says Ahlquist will use his real world experience to bring a fresh approach to Idaho state government. Kettler says that may appeal to some Gem State voters.
"That haven't been happy with how politics and how governance has been happening, so I think there's some that want change. I think some that their main concern might be the continuation of the focus on business and education and things," she says.
So far, there is no major Democratic Party candidate for governor. The 2018 Idaho primary is May 15.
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