COEUR d’ALENE — Tommy Ahlquist was a few minutes late to his Friday night campaign event in Coeur d’Alene.
But Ahlquist, a political newcomer seeking the Republican nomination in the 2018 Idaho gubernatorial election, told the crowd of about 50 who waited for him at the Kroc Center that he had a good reason for his tardiness.
“We got to do a little emergency medicine here,” said Ahlquist, 49, a former emergency room physician.
On his way from St. Maries, while driving in to Coeur d’Alene, his eighth stop in two days of a 44-day statewide tour of Idaho’s 44 counties, a man jumped from a moving vehicle traveling in front of the vehicle Ahlquist was in.
Being an ER doc for many years, Ahlquist stopped to help.
Ahlquist, also a longtime entrepreneur who owns a commercial real estate company, then laid out his political agenda for those who came to hear him, a group that included a few Republican elected officials and several members of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.
“Policy matters, and that’s why I’m running,” Ahlquist said.
Ahlquist promised to improve Idaho’s educational system and the business climate for small businesses. He said, if elected, he will effect conservative reform of health care in the state and also reform tax policy.
His “conservative blueprint for an even better Idaho,” handed out during the event, said he will begin reforming taxes by identifying $100 million of wasteful spending in the first 100 days after he’s elected.
He promised to work to limit statewide elected officials to eight consecutive years in office, two four-year terms.
“Fresh looks make a difference,” he said.
Prior to Ahlquist’s talk, Ann Seddon handed out, to people walking into the Ahlquist event, copies of a letter she said she intends to submit to this paper as a letter to the editor.
In the letter, Seddon, a member of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee that on Sept. 26 unanimously passed a resolution expressing “serious concern” about Ahlquist as a candidate, outlined seven “researched and documented” “facts that were included in the October 2017 resolution.”
During a question- and-answer period following Ahlquist’s talk, Seddon also queried the candidate about the GOP Central Committee’s concerns. She said Ahlquist did not affiliate with the Republican party until 2016, did not support or vote for the Republican candidate for president in 2016, and that he has made donations to Democrats, including a Boise City Council member who received money from Planned Parenthood.
Ahlquist said he’s not perfect, and that he’s not a career politician, but that he has voted for Republicans throughout his life.
He did not vote for now-President Donald Trump, he said, because he was Marco Rubio’s co-chair in Idaho.
He voted early, writing in Rubio, he said, and it was an emotional decision he made based on comments that became public at that time, hinting at the leaked Access Hollywood tape of Trump saying he “grabs” women in a sexual way and kisses them.
Ahlquist then said he has spent his career working on behalf of domestic violence victims, which raised a round of applause from the crowd. He is president of the board of directors of Faces of Hope victim center in Boise, an organization he said he has long supported.
“I love what President Trump is doing,” he said. “I despise Hillary.”
He admitted that as a businessman he’s given money to Democrats in local city elections.
“I have given more to Republicans, but you never hear about that.”
He ended the session by saying he would work to unite Idaho, to have a citizen-driven government, and that he would accomplish that by talking about policy, about solutions rather than ideology.
“When you talk about policy, people and families and education, guess what? We’re not that different,” he said.
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Contact City Editor Maureen Dolan at mdolan@ cdapress.com.