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Meet Pete

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Meet Pete

He wants to be your governor. Not.

You might describe him as a bit of a maverick, if you’re being kind, delusional if you happen to really like the job Butch Otter is doing as governor, or just plain goofy if you don’t have much patience for eccentric behavior. He describes himself as a spoiler, but all adjectives aside, if Pete Peterson has his way, his name will be on the ballot when Idaho’s Republican party chooses who will represent them in the race for Governor of the Gem State. And if Pete really, really gets his way, the vote will be split enough that Butch Otter will not be that man.

I was a little surprised when I heard the knock at my front door and opened it to Pete, a retired gentleman from Boise and former political campaign worker who’s running for governor. And he guessed correctly when he said I’d probably never had a gubernatorial candidate knock on my door here at home in Clark Fork. I was a little off-balance, which might explain why I neglected to ask him some pretty basic questions about who he is, and allowed our conversation to focus on what he’s doing, instead. Nonetheless, I settled him on the couch, poured him a cup of coffee (he takes it black) and we talked while Dustin and I danced and bounced with baby Keira, who was due for a nap but wasn’t about to take one with an interesting stranger in the house.

So I don’t know what Pete did for a living before he retired, but I do know that he spent some time working on behalf of political campaigns, including that of former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, during which he met Butch Otter. Pete, who says his political tendencies are somewhat libertarian with a democrat leaning, became a fan of Batt’s and wanted to see him elected to the state’s highest office. He put in a lot of time and his own money to do so, expecting nothing more than to be on the steps of the capitol at the swearing-in ceremony to celebrate the victory.

He didn’t even get that.

Nonetheless, he stayed involved in politics and supported Butch Otter—at least for a while.

“He’s become arrogant,” Pete said of his one-time choice for governor, and he elaborates on his website, saying “I am tired of the gridlock of Butch’s time in office. He can’t seem to get anything done, even with the huge Republican majority in the Idaho Legislature. More than anything else, I am tired of Butch’s incredible arrogance. It is time to show Butch the door.”

Pete, of course, is not your typical candidate for public office, which he signaled when he announced his candidacy from a strip club. He has no platform for what he would hope to accomplish should he be elected, offers no solutions to the problems facing the great state of Idaho today; instead, he says he has “no intention” and “no expectation” of winning this race. He’s purely a one-trick pony. As he wrote on his website, “I do not have the slightest interest in becoming Idaho’s next Governor. I just want someone other than Butch.” Or as he described it in a letter to Secretary of State Ben Ysura, being Governor “looks like a crummy job to me.” (He cc’d that letter, by the way, to over 176 people, including such notables as Barack Obama, Norman Lear, the Idaho Republican party, “Thai guy,” “Father Dave,” and “Teresa - Nice Cleaning Lady.”)

So far his campaign, which he portrays as a total “cyber” effort utilizing his website, along with social media such as Facebook and Twitter, is off to a bit of a rocky start. He has 500 of the 1,000 signatures he needs to get on the ballot, and only has ‘til March 15 to get them. Just 20 people are following him on Twitter, and he has only 16 fans on Facebook. He’d like a minimum of 44,000 signatures putting him on the ballot. And he’d like to see at least a 95 percent turnout in the primary election.

So he’s kicking it in high gear. He’s knocking on doors, is distributing bumper stickers and t-shirts, and has signs available to download and print from his website. Although he’s fond of a joke—he said he chose a strip club for his campaign announcement because he finds “the female body a wonderful thing”—there’s 16,000 reasons why you might want to take his campaign seriously. They’re the dollars he’s spent out of his own pocket to fund his campaign expenses to date.

“I think people feel powerless, impotent, disconnected from themselves, their families and their friends,” he wrote. “All this changes on May 25, 2010, when the incredible power and beauty of American democracy is demonstrated once again.”

There’s no Sancho Panza in sight, but that final sentence might just be a windmill worth tilting for.

Photo: though not a typical political candidate, Pete Peterson nonetheless was more than ready for  the traditional holding-of-the-baby—in this case, a refusing-to-nap Keira Gannon.

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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

Politics, Pete Peterson, governor, elections

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