BOISE - "After considering this for a few months, I'm going to run for governor of the state of Idaho," Tommy Ahlquist tells KTVB in an exclusive one-on-one television interview.
The 49-year-old former ER doctor and commercial developer said the soul searching to come to this decision didn’t take long for his family and him.
"The reason I'm getting into this is because I see potential with jobs and education. I see this health care thing coming at us and I think I am uniquely prepared to be the governor of the state and I'm going to go after it."
An early wrinkle in his inaugural trek into politics came by way of democratic Idaho Rep. Phylis King, who wrote a letter to fellow Democrats imploring them to back Ahlquist as a democratic candidate for governor given his financial backing of AJ Balukoff three years ago in his race against Butch Otter.
It was a move Ahlquist told us was misguided.
"Obviously, Phyllis doesn’t know me or she wouldn’t have sent that letter. I'm a conservative Republican. I've lived my whole entire life as a conservative Republican. I voted Republican. I voted for Butch, went to his events and gave him money.
"AJ and Suzie Balukoff, if you know them, are two of the greatest people you'll ever meet in your life, so I gave AJ some money but I voted for Butch. I'm a Republican.”
A lifetime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ahlquist says he is planning on a 97-city tour around the state to meet voters and lay out his main three platforms: Fixing Idaho's health care gap, economic development and education.
"We can make our kids ready for Idaho jobs and keep our Idaho kids here."
And, when it comes to the race, Ahlquist knows going up against Idaho political heavyweights Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Russ Fulcher and, in all probability, Raul Labrador, will make for one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial races in state history.
Ahlquist says he is not intimidated.
"I'm asked all the time, almost every meeting I'm in: ‘Here’s Russ, here’s Raul, here’s Brad...are you left or right of them?’ My answer is always the same: I'm out in front of them on every issue."
"There’s a lot of great reasons to do this....it’s something I haven't done before...public service, but I'm excited for the opportunity and really humbled by the opportunity to even have the chance to be considered to be the next governor of Idaho."