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Ammon Bundy announces Republican run for Idaho governor

Ammon Bundy announced he will seek the office of Idaho governor on June 19 at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in Meridian. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)
Ammon Bundy announced he will seek the office of Idaho governor on June 19 at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in Meridian. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)

Ammon Bundy, the politically conservative activist who is banned from the Idaho Capitol and was renounced by the Republican Party, announced he is running for Idaho governor before a crowd of several hundred people on Saturday evening at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park in Meridian.

“My friends, I am not afraid to fight for you — you know that,” Bundy said at his announcement.

“I know that securing liberty for the people of Idaho is what I was built for,” he added.

At his announcement, Bundy unveiled his Keep Idaho Idaho plan, which includes eliminating property taxes, eliminating personal income taxes, reforming laws for nonviolent crimes, bringing all federal land in Idaho under state management and eliminating all options for abortions.

Bundy said the only tax the government should charge is the sales tax, which he called a voluntary consumption tax.

“Free people should be willing to to pay for their government, or for their defense, whichever you would like to call it,” Bundy said.

On his website, Bundy pledged, “Simply put — I will end all abortions by executive order on day one of my governorship.”

In May, Bundy filed initial paperworkwith the Secretary of State’s Office appointing a political treasurer for a gubernatorial campaign. At the time, Bundy indicated he would run as a Republican. At his announcement, he confirmed he will run as a Republican.

The campaign immediately hit a snag. Bundy originally appointed himself as treasurer, but because he was not a registered voter, the Secretary of State’s Office said he must either register or appoint another treasurer who is, as required by Idaho law. Bundy then resubmitted documents to the Secretary of State’s Office appointing Aaron Welling as treasurer, state records show.

On Friday, Gem County Deputy Clerk told the Idaho Capital Sun, “We do not have an Ammon Bundy registered to vote in Gem County.” Paperwork filed with the state lists an Emmett P.O. Box as Bundy’s address. Emmett is located in Gem County.

Bundy advertised Saturday’s announcement in a YouTube video that promised his father, Cliven Bundy, would attend and they would provide burgers made with beef from the Bundy Ranch for the first 1,000 people.

Bundy has controversial past
This wasn’t your typical campaign event crowded with Republican party officials and elected leaders. Instead families and groups of people huddled in shady spots under trees or in folding chairs surrounding the park’s bandstand.

On June 4, the Idaho Republican Party and Idaho GOP Chairman Tom Luna released a statement blasting Bundy for his “antics and chaotic political theater” and vowing to not “turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”

“Republicans are the party of law and order and, and Ammon Bundy is not suited to call himself an Idaho Republican, let alone run for governor of our great state,” Luna wrote.

Bundy has been arrested multiple times at the Idaho Statehouse over the past year after leading protests against coronavirus health and safety restrictions and disrupting legislative hearings. He was arrested twice at the Capitol in August, ultimately being handcuffed and wheeled out of the Capitol two days in a row. He was charged with trespassing, resisting and obstructing officers, Idaho State Police said at the time. He was also banned from the Capitol for a year.

In April, Bundy was arrested twice in one day for suspicion of trespassing after returning to the Capitol, the AP reported.

In 2014, Cliven Bundy and their family led an armed standoff after the federal government ordered Bundy to pay unpaid grazing fees and began impounding his cattle. A judge in 2018 dismissed felony conspiracy and firearms charges against Cliven, Ammon and Ryan Bundy stemming from the standoff after saying prosecutors withheld evidence.

In 2016, Ammon Bundy helped lead an armed standoff against the government at Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. In 2016, Ammon and Ryan Bundy were found not guilty of all charges stemming from the Malheur standoff.

Ammon Bundy and his wife, Lisa, have six children. His websites describe him as a businessman who has been active in the commercial fleet industry.

“As the Republican nominee, I will clean up the party and I will get it united once again in a direction that will protect the people’s rights again,” Bundy said Saturday.

The Idaho Republican primary will be crowded race
The official candidate filing declaration period does not open until February, about 12 weeks before the May 17 primary election.

Several other candidates have already announced their candidacy for governor or appointed a campaign treasurer. The list of potential Republican gubernatorial candidates includes Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, Lisa Marie of Eagle, Ed Humprehys of Eagle, Jeff Cotton of Boise, Chris Hammond of Lewiston and Cody Usabel of Meridian.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little has appointed a political treasurer but has not announced whether he will run for re-election. Earlier this month Little told the Idaho Capital Sunthat people shouldn’t be surprised by his ultimate decision.

The winner of the May primary will advance to November’s general election.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.