FORT HALL, Idaho — Two leading Republican candidates for Idaho governor are scheduled to address the Idaho Potato Commission’s upcoming Big Idaho Potato Harvest Meeting.
IPC scheduled the meeting for Nov. 14 at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Event Center in Fort Hall to replace its annual Whistle Stop Tour.
IPC President and CEO Frank Muir is hoping to attract up to 500 growers to the new meeting in Fort Hall, where other state potato organizations such as Potato Growers of Idaho, United Potato Growers of Idaho, Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative, Idaho Grower Shippers Association and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s raw products group are also scheduled to host their own meetings to boost attendance.
IPC Commissioner Randy Hardy, of Oakley, said gubernatorial candidates Tommy Ahlquist and Lt. Gov. Brad Little will each have the chance to speak at the meeting during a 45-minute candidate forum that will begin at 11:30 a.m.
“This would be a good opportunity for the Eastern Idaho farmers to meet both of them,” Hardy said. “Neither one of them has had much exposure in Eastern Idaho.”
Hardy believes Gov. Butch Otter, who won’t be seeking re-election, has made several decisions that benefited agriculture, and whoever becomes the next governor will have a significant impact on Idaho farmers and ranchers.
Hardy noted Otter helped groundwater users and surface water users enter a historic agreement to resolve a water call that threatened the state’s economy, and also got millions in funds approved to bolster a state-run program that injects surface water into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer to reverse declining groundwater levels. Otter has also been active in promoting trade opportunities for Idaho food producers.
Hardy believes the next governor will make critical policy for agriculture regarding transportation, farm labor and taxes.
Little is a third-generation rancher. On his website, Little said he’s worked as lieutenant governor to “balance Idaho’s budget, defend our shared values and fight federal intrusion.”
Alquist is an emergency room doctor and businessman responsible for the development of Boise’s Zion’s Bank Building, which is Idaho’s tallest building. Alquist was raised on a family farm.
Hardy said U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, also a Republican candidate for governor, was invited but couldn’t attend the meeting.
Other candidates for Idaho governor include Steve Pankey, a Republican real estate broker; Democrat Troy Minton, an activist who works on behalf of the homeless; and Independents Lisa Marie, a public relations consultant; Michael Richardson, a website designer; and John Wiechec, an Army veteran, according to uselections.com.