Keith Allred’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor started Thursday in Twin Falls in an event mixing memories of his youth in the Magic Valley with endorsements from elder statesmen.

Allred, 45, returned to his hometown and the gymnasium of Twin Falls High School, which he graduated from in 1983, to make his pitch for governor before a crowd of more than 200. The founder of The Common Interest, a nonpartisan organization that works in Idaho’s public policy circles, Allred distanced himself from party politics and stressed his independence.

“I’ll be a governor who has a track record of leadership,” he said. “A governor who brings people together to find the commonsense solutions that rise above partisanship and special-interest influence.”

Former Gov. Cecil Andrus, a Democrat, and former state Sen. Laird Noh from Kimberly, a Republican, both put their support behind Allred.

“Government is for all the people and this man understands that,” Andrus said.

Noh, unable to attend because of eye surgery, expressed his support in a letter read at the event by Allan Frost, a trustee for the College of Southern Idaho.

As a director of The Common Interest, Noh said he was a “Republican rancher with nothing bad to say about Butch Otter” who got to know Allred through their work on The Common Interest.

“It is not often enough that we find someone of such uncommon ability, objectivity, and energy who is willing to devote their scarce hours in this land to political public service and leadership,” Noh wrote in his letter. “I believe that once you become acquainted with Keith, regardless of partisan affiliation or the lack thereof, you, too, will not want to let this opportunity slip away.”

Allred spoke of how summers rounding up cattle at his grandfather’s ranch in Utah prepared for him for more challenges in life. A fifth-generation Idahoan, Allred stressed his ties to the region.

A former Mormon missionary, Allred was born in Redondo Beach, Calif., and his parents divorced before he turned 2. His mother, Carol, later remarried Bob Allred, a Wood River Valley native who began teaching at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls in 1971.

“The Allreds accepted me with a warm and loving embrace as one of their own,” Allred said.

His path also crosses Ivy League geography. He earned an undergraduate degree at Stanford University and taught at Harvard University before returning to Idaho in 2003.

Allred pointed to his work with The Common Interest as preparation for the governor’s office. The group had a hand in getting legislators to reduce property taxes for homeowners.

As an example of how that would fit into the governor’s office, he said he would like to poll Idahoans to get a consensus about what tax breaks should be closed to lower the overall income tax rate.

High on his priority list are job creation and education reform, he said.

His announcement didn’t come without criticism, though. Some Republicans questioned why Allred chose to run as a Democrat after building a reputation for nonpartisanship.

“It makes you wonder if he was really all that nonpartisan,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs.

Allred, though, stressed his independence and willingness to oppose proposals he has a problem with, regardless of party.

“I think people are hungry for a new type of politics and they’ll rally around that,” he said.

In addition to Otter, other candidates for governor are Democrat Lee Chaney, independents Jana Kemp and Pro-Life, and Republicans Ron Peterson, Rex Rammell and Sharon Ullman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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