The Natural Law Party attempted to file candidacy papers for Kootenai County Commissioner Bob Macdonald to challenge state Rep. Jeff Alltus Tuesday, but the secretary of state’s office rejected the papers based on Idaho’s “sore loser” law.
That law says candidates who lose in party primaries can’t run in the general election under a different party. Macdonald lost the Republican commissioner primary to Ron Rankin.
“We’re just going by what the law says,” said Penny Ysursa of the secretary of state’s office.
Susan Vegors, state party chairwoman, said the party will challenge the decision in court. “We have lawyers who are currently working on that,” she said.
The party did file a slate of other candidates, including political newcomer Marion Ellis, a Wallace native, who will challenge U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth.
Ellis, who has worked in sales and as an office manager, learned transcendental meditation in 1977 when she lived in Sandpoint. She credits it and other lifestyle changes, including diet, exercise and stress reduction, with keeping her young and solving everyday problems.
“We’re willing to look at about any solutions that have been scientifically validated to solve the problem,” said Ellis, who now lives in Boise. “There are so many solutions out there. We’re all for incorporating those solutions into government.”
Ellis listed the DARE program and transcendental meditation as examples of such solutions. Vegors added holistic health care, organic farming and bringing rehabilitation back into the prison system.
Vegors will challenge U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. The party also fielded candidates for a couple of southern Idaho legislative seats, and Boisean John Butler will challenge U.S. Rep. Mike Crapo.
But a last-minute controversy forced it to hold a second convention Friday, because some party members objected to Buhl resident Bill Chisholm as a legislative candidate.
The party believes in “conflict-free politics,” Vegors said.
Chisholm, who wears a ponytail and sleeps in a tepee, is an activist famous for throwing red paint at a nuclear waste train in 1992. After he refused to pay $1,800 in court-ordered restitution, he spent 13 days in jail for contempt of court.
“They wanted $1,800 for a job that should’ve cost $100,” Chisholm said Friday, dubbing the court’s order “extortion.”
The party ended up dropping Chisholm.
Macdonald said he, too, is a believer in conflict-free politics. “I believe we should operate within the system and within the law,” he said. “There’s lots of room to work together. I think that’s what this party should be, to be seen as a bridge to the opposing side, to work together cooperatively.”
Macdonald, a former Coeur d’Alene city councilman and two-term county commissioner known as an easy-going, pro-business moderate, said he learned the transcendental meditation technique nearly two decades ago and it has helped him relieve stress.
“I think most people see me as a fairly moderate person, certainly a calm and relaxed person, and I don’t get rattled too often … I attribute this to the practice that I’ve done for almost the last 20 years.”
Macdonald said he opted to challenge Alltus because he lives in the same district and because “he hasn’t really been as supportive of county issues and city issues as I would like to see as far as a representative.”
Alltus miffed his own county and city leaders by proposing legislation to ban publicly funded lobbying the same year that Kootenai officials pooled their money to hire a Boise lobbyist. Local officials said they brought in the professional help because of North Idaho’s lack of legislative clout.
Alltus also faces Democrat Alan Wasserman.