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For the week of January 9 - 15, 2002


Valley man to challenge Sen. Craig in November

Express Staff Writer

A Blaine County man announced last week he will challenge U.S. Sen. Larry Craig for office in the November general election.

Alan Blinken

Alan Blinken, a self-described conservative Democrat who lives north of Ketchum, announced Jan. 2 his intention to run against Idaho’s senior senator, a Republican.

Blinken is a former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium and a New York City investment banker. He moved to Blaine County in 1996, but stated he’s had ties to the valley since the ’80s.

"It is obvious that the state has some problems that predate Sept. 11," he said. "The way I look at it, it’s a lack of good paying jobs that allow upward mobility."

Blinken said he will officially announce his candidacy at events Feb. 13 and 14 at various cities around the state. He joins Boise real estate agent Dave Sneddon, another Democrat who announced last year he’ll challenge Craig.

"What we’re going to be running on is my strength and that is to bring in good paying jobs to the state," Blinken said.

While Blinken was ambassador to Belgium, from 1993 to 1998, U.S. investment in Belgium nearly doubled, an accomplishment Blinken believes testifies to his ability to promote economic growth. At the same time, he said he helped encourage Belgium to invest in the U.S. to the tune of $6 billion.

"In a balanced budget state, we have real problems with health care, education, et cetera, but many of those things could be overcome by a broader tax base and you only get that with higher paying jobs," he said. "The people of Idaho are paying too much in taxes now, and broadening the base is the way to reduce it for everybody."

He said being a Clinton administration appointee should not affect his chances for success in an Idaho race.

"No one should waste time talking about the previous administration," he said. "They’re going to label me a liberal, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m conservative—a Second Amendment rights believer."

Blinken, 64, is originally from New York, but has been visiting the Sun Valley area since 1980. Though he only bought his home here in 1996, he said the length of his residency and origin should also not affect his chances for success.

"What matters is what you do when you get there," he said.

Neither Blinken nor Sneddon is officially in the race. Candidates cannot officially declare for office until March. But some challengers have decided to get an early start against the state’s incumbents.

Former U.S. Attorney for Idaho Betty Richardson, a Democrat, has announced her intention to challenge first term Republican U.S. Rep. Butch Otter. Nampa businessman Tom Luna, a Republican, has said he will challenge Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard, a Democrat.

Chief Deputy Ben Ysursa, a Democrat, will try to succeed his boss, Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, who is retiring. And state Rep. Celia Gould, R-Buhl will challenge Lt. Gov. Jack Riggs in May’s Republican primary.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.