Rognstad will run for Idaho governor as a write-in candidate

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

After a filing error by Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad’s campaign for Idaho governor prompted the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office to leave him off the May 17 primary ballot, Rognstad has announced a write-in campaign for the top job in the state.

In a Tweet issued March 21 from Rognstad’s “Mayor Shelby” account, he wrote that the secretary of state had denied him a ballot slot “based on a minor technicality not based on law,” yet, “I’ve determined our best option is to file a write in campaign to better represent the people of Idaho.”

Sandpoint Mayor Shelby Rognstad.

The mistake occurred when Rognstad filed his declaration to run for governor as a Democrat on the deadline of March 11. However, upon double-checking his party affiliation, it turned out Rognstad was registered as a Republican, as records showed he had been since 2020 — though his campaign later argued that Rognstad had changed his affiliation to the Democratic Party in 2021, state officials could find no record of it. 

Regardless, Rognstad re-registered with elections officials as a Democrat on March 11, but after the deadline had closed at 5 p.m.

The Secretary of State’s Office and Idaho Attorney General’s Office concurred that by missing the 5 p.m. deadline to ensure his party affiliation matched his candidacy declaration, Rognstad would be ineligible to appear on the May 17 primary ballot.

“Unfortunately, it’s not enough for Idaho Republicans to win almost every election, now they’re wanting to prevent elections from happening in the first place,” Rognstad’s campaign claimed in a March 14 statement.

Other elections officials, including Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale, said it came down to a matter of timing.

“Afterwards is too late, that’s the problem,” Rosedale told the Reader on March 15. “It’s crystal clear: You have to be affiliated with the party you’re running for. There’s no gray area there.” 

The deadline to file as a write-in candidate is 5 p.m., Friday March 25, with the declaration form available at

Rognstad told the Boise-based Idaho Capital Sun that he regretted not filing sooner during the official candidacy declaration period — which opened Feb. 28 — calling what transpired after the March 11 deadline a “catastrophe.”

“But we are where we are, and you fall off the horse, you get back up and you keep going,” he told the news organization.

Rognstad announced his intention to run for Idaho governor as a Democrat in November, and his campaign has raised more than $118,000 since Oct. 2021

As of March 23, there were 13 candidates vying for Idaho governor: eight Republicans, including incumbent Gov. Brad Little, current Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Bonner County Commissioner Steve Bradshaw; two Libertarians; one Constitutional Party member; well-known anti-government activist Ammon Bundy as an Independent; and Democrat Stephen Heidt.

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