A.J. Balukoff

AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger

Idaho businessman Anthony Joseph "A.J." Balukoff announced Thursday that he is running as a Democrat for governor in 2018, following an unsuccessful attempt nearly three years ago in the Republican-dominant Gem State.

AJForIdaho.com

Boise businessman and school board member Anthony Joseph "A.J." Balukoff said Thursday he's considering running as a Democrat for governor in 2018.

Balukoff spent more than $3 million of his own funds in a loss to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter in 2014. Otter won nearly 54 percent of the vote to less than 39 percent for Balukoff.

Otter has said he won't seek reelection next year.

Balukoff, 71, said he's willing to launch another campaign, but his wife is unsure. He plans on making a final decision this fall.

Idaho's Gov. Otter Wins A Rare Third Term

Nov 4, 2014
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This post was updated on Nov. 5 at 10:45 a.m.

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has won a rare third term leading the state.

Otter, now 72, has been a fixture of Idaho politics since he was first elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 1973. Otter has been a legislator, a congressman and one of the state's longest-serving lieutenant governors. 

He was first elected governor of Idaho in 2006. This year, Otter faced a difficult race against his Democratic challenger, Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff.

Idaho Public Television

In their last meeting before Tuesday's election, three men running to be Idaho's governor wasted no time in taking shots at each other's policies and ideas. The debate, hosted by Idaho Public Television, featured incumbent Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Democrat A.J. Balukoff and Libertarian John Bujak.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A favorite joke in Idaho -- at least among Republicans -- is that Idaho's Democrats could hold their convention in a phone booth.

Republicans have held the Idaho governor's office for 20 years and are easily the state’s ruling party. But this year, Republican governor Butch Otter doesn't face the easy ride back to office you might expect.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A.J. Balukoff has said he’s committed to doing whatever it takes to unseat incumbent Gov. Butch Otter.

And we now know that includes putting more than $3.2 million into the race.

The latest round of campaign finance reports came in Tuesday — a snapshot covering the period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 19. In that time, the businessman, accountant and Boise School Board trustee contributed $995,000 to his campaign, bringing his total contributions for the year past the $2.7 million mark. Since Oct. 19, Balukoff has put an additional $545,000 into the race.

New campaign finance reports show a national Republican group has spent more than $500,000 trying to re-elect Gov. Butch Otter in Idaho.

Molly Messick / Boise State Public Radio

A new poll from Public Policy Polling suggests Idaho Democrats could have a shot at winning a couple of statewide races on Nov. 4.

The North Carolina-based polling firm is known as a Democratic-leaning pollster. The firm says the poll wasn't commissioned by a candidate, but was conducted independently by Public Policy Polling.

Idaho's Libertarian gubernatorial candidate John Bujak says it was unbelievable he did not meet the requirements to participate in the latest governor debate.

When contacted by The Associated Press Monday, Bujak said he didn't know his name was not among the three candidates participating in Tuesday's debate. But KTVB executive director Kate Morris said all of the possible debate candidates were notified of the qualifications when they were invited on May 28, including Bujak.

Otter Leads Balukoff By 24 Points In Latest Poll For Idaho Governor

Oct 10, 2014

The latest poll on Idaho's gubernatorial race shows two-term incumbent Republican C.L. "Butch" Otter leading Democrat A.J. Balukoff by 24 percentage points.

The CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll released Oct. 1 shows 57 percent of respondents said they favor Otter.

The poll surveyed 594 Idahoans between Sept. 20-Oct. 1. In each demographic breakdown available, Otter had a sizeable lead.

Washington's law legalizing recreational marijuana made its way into Idaho's gubernatorial debate on Friday.

Butch Otter, AJ Balukoff, debate
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter defended his record on schools, healthcare and the economy at a debate in Coeur d'Alene Friday.

The two-term Republican governor faced off for the first time with his Democratic opponent A.J. Balukoff, and Libertarian candidate John Bujak, who is hoping to appeal to disillusioned Republicans. 

Bujak kicked off the debate by thanking the governor for being there.

Idaho's gubernatorial candidates are honing their campaign messages as election season enters the homestretch. However, as political advertisements increase, not all include details proving their claims.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's political ads have largely focused on his involvement during his past two terms in improving Idaho's economy after it fell during the Great Recession.

The first debate between candidates for governor of Idaho kicked off Wednesday evening without the incumbent, but nonetheless, he was the target of criticism throughout the event.

Democratic candidate A.J. Balukoff faced off against Libertarian candidate John Bujak in Twin Falls.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter declined to participate, but he has accepted debate invitations in other regions of the state in the upcoming weeks.

AJForIdaho.com

Idaho democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff is outspending Republican opponent Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on political television advertisements.

According to data reviewed by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, Balukoff has spent more than $500,000 on political television advertisements. Otter, meanwhile, has spent nearly $121,000 on television ads in the same time period.

The data also found that Balukoff's ads have run nearly 2,800 times and Otter's ads have run little more than 500.

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