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Sandpoint mayor launches write-in campaign for governor

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad wearing a black blazer and white shirt in front of a blurred background.
The Shelby Rognstad campaign
Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad said Monday he'll undergo a write-in campaign for governor. That's after he apparently failed to change his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat prior to filing his official campaign paperwork earlier this month.

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad said Monday he’ll undertake a write-in campaign for governor. That’s after Rognstad failed to become a registered Democrat prior to filing to run for Idaho’s highest office.

In a tweet, he said Secretary of State Lawerence Denney denied him a spot in the Democratic primary “based on a minor technicality” Rognstad claims isn’t “based on law.”

Rognstad said he registered as a Democrat in Oct. 2021. Prior to that, he was a registered Republican, according to the state’s voter registration database.

But the Idaho Secretary of State’s office said it had no record of that change.

Idaho code states candidates “shall be affiliated with a party at the time of filing.”

“The filing official shall reject any declaration of candidacy for partisan office in a primary election from candidates who are not affiliated with a political party,” it continues.

After filing to run for governor on March 11, Rognstad swapped his party affiliation to Democrat. His campaign argues Idaho law only requires a candidate to be affiliated with a party – not necessarily the party whose nomination they seek.

Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told the Idaho Capital Sun, “That’s a semantics argument,” and that the Idaho Attorney General’s office agreed with the interpretation that Rognstad’s claim wasn’t valid.

Rognstad said he considered suing, but his lawyer told him the timeframe was too short.

“And, of course, we have no guarantee that the outcome would be in our favor, either,” he said in an interview Monday.

He said he wishes he would’ve filed sooner during the two-week candidate declaration period instead of just hours before the deadline.

Rognstad said he had some meetings planned that weekend after the deadline, March 11, and didn't think there would be any complications in the filing process.

“Believe me, I regret not filing a week earlier and I apologize to all my supporters out there that I let down.”

Rognstad now needs to get 1,000 signatures to become a certified write-in candidate in the May Democratic primary.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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