EXCLUSIVE: Ahlquist 'seriously considering' run for Idaho governor

Don Day

Boise-area developer Dr. Tommy Ahlquist is considering running for Idaho's top elected office as a Republican.

“I have not officially declared but I am seriously considering a run in the 2018 gubernatorial race," Ahlquist told BoiseDev.com Wednesday evening. “Timing and events and really personal events have prompted me to (consider) this.”

Ahlquist enters a potentially crowded field in the 2018 Republican primary.  Last summer, both Lieutenant Governor Brad Little and former state Senator Russ Fulcher made very early announcements they would enter the race to replace Gov. Butch Otter, who has declared this will be his last term in office.

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Ahlquist says he has been considering the run for a while.

“I’ve been asked for a long time to consider it by people I trust," he said. "It’s been going on for about a year and a half, people saying 'you’d be good at it and your skill set is unique.'"

The 8th & Main and Clearwater buildings in Downtown Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

The 8th & Main and Clearwater buildings in Downtown Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev.com

Ahlquist is both a medical doctor, and a Boise developer for Gardner Co. best known for two projects in the Downtown Boise core.  The 8th & Main Building opened in early 2014 on a site that sat vacant for decades amidst a parade of failed development projects. The 18-story building is Idaho's tallest and features offices, retail and restaurants - and is the Idaho headquarters for Zions Bank.

In 2015, Gardner acquired the US Bank Plaza building nearby and quickly developed a former surface parking lot on the site into a detailed project that included an expansion of the Boise Centre convention facility, a Valley Regional Transit bus station, retail, restaurants, a home for Boise State University's computer science program and headquarters for Clearwater Analytics.  Much of that project opened last fall.

Ahlquist says he feels his background makes him a strong candidate.

“I think (I bring) an outside look at government. I think running the state is complicated and requires someone who has vast experience in a variety of fields. While I don't have any elected experience, I bring that as both a doctor and a business leader.” 

If elected, he says he would focus on education, jobs, workforce development and healthcare

If Ahlquist formally declares, he could change the dynamic of the race.  In today's Idaho Press Tribune, a columnist speculates about a potential bid by current Rep. Raul Labrador. He demurred when asked during an October debate on KTVB for reelection to his seat in congress about any designs on Otter's seat.

Fulcher came within ten points of Otter in the 2014 GOP primary.  Little could wind up as an incumbent if Otter's open desire for a spot in President-elect Trump's cabinet is fulfilled.