Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad announced he will stage a campaign as a write-in Democratic candidate for Idaho governor in the May primary, one week after the Idaho Secretary of State’s office determined he would not appear as an official candidate on the May 17 primary ballot.
“(The Secretary of State’s office) denied me access to be on the ballot based on a minor technicality not based on law,” Rognstad wrote in a tweet Monday morning. “I’ve determined our best option is to file a write in campaign to better represent the people of Idaho.”
Rognstad filed his declaration of candidacy paperwork on the day of the filing period deadline, March 11, but failed to change his voter registration from Republican to Democrat, according to recent reporting by the Idaho Capital Sun. The campaign contended Rognstad did change his voter affiliation to Democrat with Bonner County in 2021, but Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told the Capital Sun last week the Secretary of State’s office found no record of that change.
After discovering his name was not on the unofficial candidate list the night of the deadline, Rognstad did change his affiliation online, but that only affects his status as a voter, according to Houck.
Rognstad’s campaign issued a statement after the decision from the Secretary of State’s office saying it was politically motivated, making an argument that Idaho Code doesn’t specify that it has to be the same party. Houck said that was a semantics argument and the Idaho Attorney General’s office agreed.
The deadline for a Declaration of Intent as a write-in candidate is 5 p.m. Friday.
Democratic candidate Stephen Heidt, of Marsing, filed a candidacy declaration for governor, and will appear on the primary ballot. Avery Roberts, spokesperson for the Idaho Democratic Party, said the party will support the winner of the primary.
“Mr. Heidt and Mayor Rognstad are both running to become the Idaho Democratic candidate for governor. The Idaho Democratic Party will remain neutral in this competitive primary race. We look forward to voters making their choice on May 17,” Roberts said in a statement.