The Idaho Republican Party has standards.
Case in point: Idaho GOP Chairman Tom Luna says Ammon Bundy is unsuitable to challenge Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, incumbent Brad Little, Ed Humphreys of Eagle and whoever else runs in next year’s Republican gubernatorial primary election.
Bundy is no Boy Scout.
Only by the grace of God and an inept U.S. Justice Department is he not occupying a federal penitentiary cell for insurrections at Bunkerville, Nev., in 2014 and at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., in 2016.
In the name of opposing facemask mandates, he has disrupted everything from a public health district board meeting to a local high school football game. His antics at last summer’s special legislative session got Bundy exiled from the state Capitol—and jailed for trespassing.
The state Constitution requires him to be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen and a resident of Idaho for at least two years prior to the Nov. 8, 2022 election.
Check, check and check.
Luna asserts Bundy is not a genuine Republican.
Tell that to Republican Reps. Judy Boyle, Heather Scott and Sage Dixon, who lent their support to the Malheur occupation, or to Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman, who celebrated Easter 2020 at Bundy’s in defiance of the spring COVID-19 pandemic shutdown order.
Besides, Republican fealty hardly mattered before.
Did anybody make a big deal about anti-tax activist Ron Rankin running as an independent in the 1994 gubernatorial election—in an open bid to drain support from Republican Phil Batt? Two years later, Rankin came home and ran as a Republican for Kootenai County commissioner.
How about Rex Rammell? After he sought to derail Jim Risch’s 2008 Senate campaign by running as an independent, Rammell returned to the 2010 GOP primary against then-Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. He ran in 2012 as a Republican for the Idaho Legislature and, later, as a Republican for Wyoming’s congressional seat.
How could anybody forget anti-abortion rights activist Walt Beyes or biker Harley Brown— whose primary election antics created must-see TV during the 2014 primary election debate?
It’s true, as Luna asserts, that Bundy has no party affiliation and is not registered to vote.
He’s got nine months before the filing deadline to remedy the issue.
Luna can’t condone Bundy’s “antics or his chaotic political theater. This is not the Republican Party, and we will not turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”
The GOP didn’t mind the antics of former Congressman George Hansen from Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.
Between an ethics rap he ultimately beat in the U.S. Supreme Court and a fraud case he did not, Hansen was in and out of prison. The New York Times headlined his obituary: “George Hansen, Idaho congressman and convicted swindler, dies at 83.”
Nobody threw Hansen out of the GOP.
How about former Sen. Larry Craig? He became a national punch line for his 2007 conviction in a Minneapolis airport bathroom gay sex sting operation. Not only did the GOP turn a blind eye to that, it welcomed him back as financial chairman.
Offenses large and small have gone unremarked.
When Rep. John Green got ousted from the Legislature after a federal jury convicted him of conspiring to defraud the government, House Speaker Scott Bedke called it a “solemn and difficult day.”
Former Sen. John McGee followed up a bizarre drunken driving conviction by sexually harassing a female staffer. He was booted out of the Senate, but not the GOP. In fact, many of the party faithful rallied to his side when he successfully ran for the Caldwell City Council.
Whether it’s former Rep. Phil Hart, a tax scofflaw who wrote tax laws for the rest of us; Scott, who enthusiastically posed with the Confederate flag, or, more recently, former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, who resigned rather than be kicked out of the Legislature on charges that he abused a 19-year-old intern, the party has never closed its doors to them.
So, what is so uniquely awful about Bundy that Luna is willing to risk driving him into an independent candidacy that might drain Republican voters in the fall 2022 campaign?
Says Luna: Bundy “openly supports defunding the police and has known alliances with the radical factions of the Black Lives Matter movement. Republicans are the party of law and order, and Ammon Bundy is not suited to call himself an Idaho Republican, let alone run for governor of our great state.”
Such apostasy Idaho’s GOP will not abide.
This editorial ran in the Lewiston Tribune on June 9.