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
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eugene, Ore. nonprofit Long Tom Watershed Council is seeking a highly collaborative individual to lead a talented, dedicated team of professionals. Full-time: $77,000 - $90,000...
  • GIS SPECIALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The GIS Specialist provides technical and scientific support for Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, data management, and visualization internally and...
  • LOWER SAN PEDRO PROGRAM MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Lower San Pedro Program Manager directs some or all aspects of protection, science, stewardship and community relations for the...
  • FOREST RESTORATION SPATIAL DATA MANAGER
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Forest Restoration Spatial Data Manager fills an integral role in leading the design and development of, as well as...
  • WATER PROJECTS MANAGER, SOUTHERN AZ
    What We Can Achieve Together: Working hybrid in Tucson, AZ or remote from Sierra Vista, AZ or other southern Arizona locations, the Water Projects Manager,...
  • SENIOR STAFF THERAPIST/PSYCHOLOGIST: NATIVE AMERICAN STUDENT SPECIALIST
    Counseling Services is a department strategically integrated with Health Services within the Division of Student Services and Enrollment Management. Our Mission at the Counseling Center...
  • THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IS HIRING A LOCAL INITIATIVES COORDINATOR
    The Nature Conservancy in Wyoming seeks a Local Initiatives Coordinator to join our team. We're looking for a great communicator to develop, manage and advance...
  • LAND AND WATER PROTECTION MANAGER - NORTHERN ARIZONA
    We're Looking for You: Are you looking for a career to help people and nature? Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our...
  • SENIOR CLIMATE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATE
    The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) seeks a Senior Climate Conservation Associate (SCCA) to play a key role in major campaigns to protect the lands, waters,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Southern Nevada Conservancy Board of Directors announces an outstanding opportunity for a creative leader to continue building this organization. SNC proudly supports Nevada's public...
  • CORTEZ COLORADO LOT FOR SALE
    Historic tree-lined Montezuma Ave. Zoned Neighborhood Business. Build your dream house or business right in the heart of town. $74,000. Southwest Realty
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • PHILANTHROPY COORDINATOR
    Founded by sportsmen and women in 1936, the Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is a statewide nonprofit dedicated to protecting, conserving, and enhancing Idaho's natural resources,...
  • STRAWBALE HOME BESIDE MONTEZUMA WELL NAT'L MONUMENT
    Straw Bale Home beside Montezuma Well National Monument. Our property looks out at Arizona fabled Mogollon Rim and is a short walk to perennial Beaver...
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • A CHILDREN'S BOOK FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS!!
    "Goodnight Fossil Fuels!" is a an engaging, beautiful, factual and somewhat silly picture book by a climate scientist and a climate artist, both based in...
  • THE MAGICAL UNIVERSE OF THE ANCIENTS: A DESERT JOURNAL
    Bears Ears, Chaco Canyon, and other adventures in the Four Corners area. 60 photos and lively journals. Purchase hc $35 or pb $25 from bigwoodbooks.com...