Idaho could move toward the center

  • Walt Minnick

 

Two years ago, Idaho's congressional delegation took a hard turn to the right. Two Republican senators, Dirk Kempthorne and Larry Craig, already led the state, but the addition to the House of newcomer Helen Chenoweth (who claims that salmon aren't endangered because they're still available at the supermarket) moved the delegation to a new extreme. In 1995, Idaho amassed the lowest environmental voting score of any state's delegation - straight zeroes, according to the League of Conservation Voters' recently released scorecard. The delegation consistently voted against laws that would rein in the state's mining, timber and livestock industries.

Believing that many Idahoans feel abandoned by their current representation, a Boise businessman says he's eager to shift the political balance. Walt Minnick, 53, a former Republican turned Independent, is running on the Democratic ticket against Sen. Craig. Minnick's campaign theme, "Don't Waste Idaho," points a finger at Craig for allowing nuclear waste shipments into the state. Minnick also says he wants to save the state's endangered salmon and protect public lands.

But Minnick, a native Westerner, is also a fiscal conservative who advocates a balanced federal budget and campaign-finance reform. For over 20 years he worked for Trus Joist, a wood-products corporation in Idaho, eventually becoming its chief executive officer. Before launching into business, he served a brief stint in the Nixon administration but resigned in 1973 to protest the administration's involvement in Watergate. He has never before run for elective office.

"Minnick is a fairly rare breed," says Karl Brooks of the Idaho Conservation League. "He's both a successful businessman and a devoted conservationist." For Brooks, that means Minnick could "re-define where the middle ground is in Idaho."

Defeating Craig won't be easy. He has championed many causes for the powerful livestock, timber and mining industries in the Gem State. He co-sponsored the grazing bill now before Congress, supported last year's salvage logging legislation, and worked against serious mining law reform.

"Sen. Craig has been a real friend to the resource industries of Idaho," says Bob Sears of the Idaho Cattle Association. "He'd be real hard to replace."

High Country News Classifieds
  • MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    For more information visit www. wyofile.com/careers/
  • THRIVING LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE FOR SALE
    Turn-key business opportunity. Successful well established business with room to grow. Excellent highway visibility.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    For more information, visit www.wyofile.com/careers/
  • SONORAN INSTITUTE, CEO
    Chief Executive Officer Tucson, Arizona ABOUT SONORAN INSTITUTE Since 1990, the Sonoran Institute has brought together diverse interests to successfully forge effective and enduring conservation...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a high-impact, nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 27-year legacy using...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Position Summary Join our Team at the New Mexico Land Conservancy! We're seeking a Project Manager who will work to protect land and water across...
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • WILDLIFE HAVEN
    Beautiful acreage with Teton Creek flowing through it. Springs and ponds, lots of trees, moose and deer. Property has barn. Easy access. approx. 33 acres.
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...