The headline: “Risch: ‘I have no future political plans’” The date: Nov. 10, 1988, shortly after longtime state Sen. Jim Risch, the president pro-tem of the Senate, was booted out of office by Ada County voters. The byline: By Betsy Z. Russell, The Idaho Statesman.
That’s right – as a young reporter, I covered what Risch then billed as his “last press conference,” suggesting he was done with politics and would withdraw into private life. “I have no future political plans of any kind,” Risch said then. Four years later, he tried for a comeback, but lost in the GOP primary, a drubbing that prompted him to again declare his multi-decade political career over. But two years after that, Gov. Phil Batt appointed Risch back into the state Senate, and he began rising again into the leadership ranks. And now he’s lieutenant governor, a former governor, and Idaho’s newest U.S. senator-elect.
Back in 1988, I reported that Risch “looked shaken, but nevertheless joked with reporters in his usual style.” When asked if he’d seek national office in the future, he said, “I don’t like anything about Washington, D.C. – particularly living there.” But now, that’s where he’s headed. The longtime Idaho politician says he’s “mellowed” over the years. After all his years in the state Senate, Risch said, “I enjoyed that legislative process, I really did. This is the same thing at a higher level. It’s got a lot more moving parts. That’s still what intrigues me.” You can read my profile of Risch here in today’s Spokesman-Review.