New Committee of Veteran Idaho Officials Seek to Face Extremists |
A group of former Idaho government, business and agriculture leaders have formed a new political action committee designed to oust extremists from the Idaho legislature.
One of Take Back Idaho PAC’s strategies is to support applicants who support schools and public education.
Jennifer Ellis, breeder and former president of the Idaho Cattle Association, is the president of Take Back Idaho PAC. Other members of the Political Action Committee include former Idaho House chairman Bruce Newcomb, R-Burley; former Idaho Senate Speaker Pro Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs; former Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and former Idaho Attorney General and retired Idaho Supreme Court Judge Jim Jones and former school district superintendent by Weiser, Wil Overgaard.
The committee plans to support and try to help elect candidates for parliamentary elections from 2022, especially candidates who will support education. The committee also plans to oppose outgoing lawmakers who attack education and which Take Back Idaho PAC members see as extremists in their views and political positions.
The Take Back Idaho committee plans to raise and spend campaign money, Newcomb said.
“First and foremost, we want to prepare the candidates and make sure they are funded and supported and help them in any way we can to get elected,” Newcomb said in a telephone interview. “That’s the goal here, to get people really involved and to support our schools and our communities. “
Other new groups also oppose extremism in Idaho
Take Back Idaho PAC is not the only group created to fight the far right and the nonprofit Idaho Freedom Foundation.
Boiseans Nathaniel Hoffman and Emily Walton formed the Idaho 97 Project LLC to oppose extremism, hold lawmakers to account, involve Idahoans, and support education.
The non-partisan group Reclaim Idaho led the efforts behind the success of the Medicaid 2018 expansion vote initiative and are now working to qualify an education vote initiative for the 2022 general election.
And this fall, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a trade lobbying group that represents some 300 Idaho companies, pushed back efforts by the legislature to pass bills that place restrictions or responsibilities on vaccine companies.
Leaders of Take Back Idaho formed the PAC out of concern for the influence the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation had over the Idaho legislature, particularly the Idaho House of Representatives, Newcomb said. During the 2021 session, far-right members of Idaho House aligned with the Freedom Foundation led the effort to slash the higher education budget by $ 2.5 million and hijack the budget of higher education. public schools for teacher salaries after lawmakers claimed public school students were brainwashed with social justice programs and rejected $ 6 million in federal funding for preschool.
“It’s just not acceptable,” Newcomb said. “It never has been and it certainly isn’t now, especially after going through a pandemic and people trying to catch up and make up for lost time.”
Several members of the Take Back Idaho PAC said the backlash against education was the last straw for them.
“The recent disruptive legislative sessions have highlighted the desperate need to replace dangerous extremists in the legislature,” Ellis said in a written statement. “Instead of coming up with positive ideas to improve the daily lives of Idahoans, these politicians are wasting precious time and taxpayer dollars. This vocal minority has replaced civility and common sense with conspiracy theories, fringe views, and cheap political theater. “
Primary elections for statewide and legislative races will be held in May if the redistribution maps of Idaho, which created new legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census information became available, are not delayed by several legal challenges. The general election will be held in November.
More information about the Take Back Idaho committee and the issues its members will highlight is available on its website.