Sandpoint mayor enters governor’s race

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad has formally announced his candidacy for governor.

Rognstad, a Democrat, made his announcement in Lewiston Monday afternoon.

Shelby Rognstad

He becomes the second Democrat to jump in the governor’s race, joining Melissa Sue Robinson, a perennial candidate from Nampa.

Born in Lewiston, Rognstad is a fourth-generation Idahoan, a University of Idaho graduate and a small business owner.

He has served in local government since 2007 and was elected Sandpoint mayor in 2015. He was re-elected four years later, becoming only the second two-term mayor in the city’s history.

He also sits on the board of the Association of Idaho Cities, a lobbying group that represents municipal interests, and he’s a board member of the Bonner County Economic Development Corp.

Rognstad has been considering a governor’s run for at least several weeks.

In October, he told the Sandpoint Reader he was looking at the race, saying he was disappointed that Idaho’s school funding remains mired at the bottom of national rankings, even as the state sits on a record budget surplus. In that interview, Rognstad also criticized incumbent Gov. Brad Little for signing a bill to further restrict the voter initiative process — later struck down by the Idaho Supreme Court — and for planning to join lawsuits seeking to overturn the White House’s vaccine mandates.

On Oct. 6, Rognstad appointed a campaign treasurer — former gubernatorial candidate and Boise school trustee A J Balukoff — and he has since begun fundraising.

He has raised slightly more than $15,000, according to state campaign finance reports. Slightly more than $5,000 of that money came from the candidate himself, and $5,000 came from state Democratic Party chairman Fred Cornforth.

To date, the bulk of the attention in the governor’s race, and the vast majority of fundraising, has occurred on the GOP side of the ballot. Little is expected to seek re-election, although he has not formally announced his plans. But Little has far outraised his likely primary opponents, including Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, political activist Ammon Bundy, and Eagle GOP official Ed Humphreys.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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