In one of the shortest-lived mysteries in Idaho political history, Democrats appear to have their "secret" candidate for governor.
And he's an interesting pick: Keith Allred, a former public policy professor at Harvard who returned to his native Idaho to head up the respected (and nonpartisan) good-government group The Common Interest.
NewWest.Net's Jill Kuraitis broke the story Wednesday night. Allred is expected to appoint a political treasurer and file the required paperwork with the secretary of state's office, a precursor to March candidate filing process.
Allred may be a relative unknown statewide — especially compared to incumbent Gov. Butch Otter and even GOP primary challengers Rex Rammell and Sharon Ullman, an Ada County commissioner.
But he's well-known around the Statehouse and Idaho public policy circles. His group has analyzed some of the most vexing issues on the legislative agenda — from transportation funding to closed party primaries. The group has also remained assiduously nonpartisan, which makes Allred's jump into partisan politics a stunner.
Allred's legislative record has been mixed. In the spring of 2006, Allred helped to broker a compromise on property tax relief, by tying the state's homeowner's exemption to changes in the Idaho House Price Index, a more accurate measure of the real estate market. In 2009, Allred pushed a beer and wine tax increase, with proceeds dedicated to substance-abuse treatment programs. That bill died in a House committee, after a vigorous lobbying and social media campaign helped galvanize opposition.
If Otter is a populist's populist, then Allred is a wonk's wonk. Which will make for a fascinating study in contrasts.
Of course, the past 24 hours have been fairly fascinating too. On Wednesday, Democratic organizer Betty Richardson sent out a strangely worded note to supporters.
"I know you've all been hoping that we would be able to identify a real leader, someone with ability and vision who will not only make a great gubernatorial candidate, but who will make an outstanding Governor," wrote Richardson, the former U.S. Attorney and congressional candidate who is heading up Democrats' recruiting efforts.
"Although I can't release the name just yet, I am very pleased to report that such an individual is preparing to step forward and offer Idahoans a clear choice in the 2010 election. Of course, we'll have to wait for the primary election to see how this all shakes out, but I am absolutely thrilled that at least one candidate will be running who has the intelligence, integrity, energy and experience to run a winning campaign and, once inaugurated, truly transform state government.
"Expect an announcement in the very near future."
So much for the suspense, apparently. ...