SANDPOINT — The Republican nomination for the regional legislative seats will be hard-won this year.
Conservative activists Pam Stout and Danielle Ahrens have announced their intention to pursue the GOP nomination for seats currently held by Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, and Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint.
“Neither one of us is a slick Boise politician,” Ahrens said. “We know what it’s like to balance a checkbook.”
After her inclusion in a New York Times feature story and an appearance on “Late Night With David Letterman” in 2010, Pam Stout became something of a national Tea Party icon. Her county job heading the Bonner County Property Rights Council further bolstered her conservative credentials. Now Stout aims to take her views to Boise as a District 1 representative.
“I think that the majority of people here have an idea of who I am, and some of them have the wrong idea,” she said. “Those are the people I want to meet.”
Stout maintains the belief in fiscal conservatism that defines Tea Party candidates. She also is concerned about Idaho’s energy policies, citing wind farms’ need for a backup electrical system as an example of ineffective alternative energy systems.
“That’s like a man who bikes to work for environmental reasons but has his wife drive behind him, just in case,” Stout said.
Stout first began considering a future in politics several years ago. When her mother died, however, her aspirations were delayed until now. While she is committed to influencing the state’s future, she nevertheless expressed admiration for her opponent.
“Just because I’m running against George doesn’t mean I don’t like him,” she said.
As a candidate for District 1 Senator, Ahrens defines her candidacy by three planks of support. As a pro-jobs candidate, she wants to attract jobs with livable wages and reduce impact fees on businesses. In the interest of nurturing a capable workforce of the future, she is also pro-education. Finally, she is pro-life.
“I value life from conception to death and beyond,” Ahrens said.
Ahrens backs her candidacy with her experience as Yolo County Sheriff’s Department correctional officer and her history of volunteerism for the Sandpoint Christian school and church programs supporting troubled adults.
“I’m running to make the constituents’ lives better,” Ahrens said. “But no matter what happens, I’ll still be a fighter.”
Last Saturday, Stout and Ahrens traveled to Boise and hosted a meet-and-greet at the Grove Hotel. Despite their friendship and their tendency to travel together, however, they said that voters shouldn’t view them as connected candidates. Instead, they should evaluate each person on his or her own merits.
“We are individuals running against individuals,” Stout said.