Think of it as calling dibs.
Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little announced last week he's running for governor almost two-and-a-half years before the 2018 election. With incumbent Butch Otter likely not running again, the field for the GOP nomination might be crowded.
Long-time Idaho political analyst Jim Weatherby says by becoming the first candidate in the race, Little may be sending a message to Republicans who respect the party hierarchy that he is the heir-apparent.
"[He's] trying to influence some people not to run," says Weatherby. "The potentially centrist candidate who has close ideological leanings to Little might be influenced not to run.”
But Corey Cook of Boise State's School of Public Policy doesn’t see it that way. He says any centrist party establishment Republicans who might want to be governor would already have known Little would be running. Weatherby agrees that it’s no secret Little was planning to run, and both also agree that the early announcement would not scare off candidates who like to position themselves as party outsiders. But Cook sees the timing as part of a national trend.
“It wasn’t that long ago that you would declare in January of the election year," says Cook. "And then it became after the presidential election you’d see gubernatorial candidates declare. Now it’s even before the presidential one. We have 36 governors’ races up in 2018 and already we’re seeing candidates declare for a number of those races.”
Cook says nationally there is more emphasis being placed on the importance of governors’ races. He says candidates now have to raise a lot of money and having a lot of time to do that is an advantage. Plus he says it gives them more time to get name recognition and make their positions known.
Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam
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