Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff officially kicked off his second bid for governor in Pocatello Wednesday, attempting to be the first Democrat to win statewide office since 2002.
It’s been a whirlwind year in political change at the national level, but Balukoff says Idaho still faces the same problems it did when he first unsuccessfully ran for governor four years ago.
Education, he says, is still his top priority.
“There’s been a lot of talk about changing the funding model for public schools and unless the funding is increased in total you’re just picking winners and losers,” Balukoff says.
He’s been a member of the Boise School District Board of Trustees for 20 years.
Balukoff notes federal taxes paid by Idahoans are paying for other states to expand Medicaid – something he’d fight for if elected.
“We’re not getting anything because we haven’t expanded Medicaid, leaving 78,000 people – working mothers and fathers and veterans – without health insurance. It just makes no sense at all to not expand Medicaid coverage,” he says.
His 2014 campaign against outgoing Gov. Butch Otter (R) ended in a 15-point loss despite injecting millions of his own money into the race.
Despite the defeat, he says voters are tired of one political party controlling every facet of state government, though Democrats lost four seats in the state legislature in 2016 – including two longtime incumbents.
Balukoff’s statewide tour will visit Twin Falls, Ketchum and Coeur d’Alene over the next few days.
He faces State Rep. Paulette Jordan in the Democratic Party primary in May.
A crowded Republican field for governor includes Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist, Congressman Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little.
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