Lewiston native sets run for governor | North West
Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rongstad announced his candidacy for governor of Idaho on Monday, becoming the second Democrat to join the 2022 race.
Rongstad, 47, returned to his Lewiston roots to make the announcement. Speaking to around 30 people at the Lewis Clark Hotel, he noted that he was a fourth generation Idahoan, born and raised in Lewiston, where his great-grandfather opened Rongstad Insurance.
“My family has cultivated values in me – values like hard work and service,” he said. “They taught me the importance of family and community. They also shared an entrepreneurial spirit with me.
After graduating from the University of Idaho, Rongstad moved to Sandpoint, where he opened a bookstore, restaurant and concert hall. He then sat on the Planning and Zoning Commission, then on the municipal council.
He was elected mayor in 2015. Four years later, he became the second person in history – and the first in half a century – to be elected for a second term as mayor of the city.
“I am sharing this story with you because I want you to see me as I am,” Rongstad said. “I am committed to serving. I am involved in the community. I am committed to the shared values of Idaho.
Rongstad noted that he grew up in a conservative family, “but at a time when political views did not separate us from our friends and neighbors.”
“We had a common set of values that held up in times of challenge,” he said. “But Idaho politics have changed.”
Today, Rongstad said, the Republican Party has become a party of extremists. So extreme that “basic and vital public health measures are ignored”. So extreme that it essentially abandoned the state’s investment in public education, leaving local communities to fill the void with additional levies.
“For most of a generation, Idaho has effectively been a one-party state,” Rongstad said. “There are no checks and balances, no compromise, no accountability. It’s dangerous. The most extreme voices are now unopposed. Common sense leadership has been replaced by authoritarianism and culture wars.
Now more than ever, he said, Idaho needs leadership.
“Right here at the historic Lewis Clark Hotel, John F. Kennedy gave a famous speech,” said Rongstad. Right here, (future four-time governor) Cecil Andrus was inspired by Kennedy’s words to run for office. Here, now, we can restore the balance of power in Idaho. We can resist extremism. and work together on the issues that unite us.We can bring common sense leadership back to Idaho.
Rongstad is the second Democrat to announce her candidacy for the 2022 gubernatorial race. The first, Melissa Sue Robinson, is a transgender woman from Nampa who has previously worked for several local and legislative offices.
More than half a dozen Republicans have thrown their hats in the ring. This includes Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, anti-government activist Ammon Bundy and former financial adviser Ed Humphreys, of Eagle.
Governor Brad Little has not officially announced his re-election plans, but he is expected to run for a second term.
Democrats have not performed particularly well in Idaho’s gubernatorial election in recent years, winning an average of 36.6% of the vote over the past three election cycles.
Rongstad said the Republican Party’s continued right-leaning gives it an opening.
“Their extremism goes beyond Idaho and the nation,” he said. “They are so far away that they threaten the democratic core of the nation. Reasonable Republicans must jump off this sinking ship.