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Idaho Rep. Harwood won’t seek re-election

Idaho Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries (Betsy Russell)

BOISE - Six-term Idaho Rep. Dick Harwood, R-St. Maries, has decided to end his 12-year legislative career after this year.

“I’m not going to run,” Harwood said Thursday. “My wife’s family’s not doing well. … She needs me to be there.”

After 12 years in the Legislature, Harwood says he’s most proud of his work to push back against the federal government, including his failed bill this year to kick the EPA out of Idaho.

“My whole goal has been to push back from the federal government,” Harwood said. “Just having someone here to try to push back and say, ‘Hey, we have sovereignty as a state,’ and try to keep the federal government from running over the top of us. That’s been my goal.”

He said his only regret is that he wasn’t able to do more on that score.

Harwood, who’s often been the only “no” vote in the House this year, made a splash in 2009 when he told the House that the United States is really a “confederacy,” a claim that was sharply disputed by political scientists.

Even though he won’t be in office next year, Harwood said he hopes to work more on his anti-EPA resolution over the summer and find another lawmaker to sponsor it next year.

“We need to send a message to Congress that they’ve got to do something with the EPA, they’re out of control,” Harwood said. “I think probably eliminating them and giving the federal control to the states would be a good move.”

Harwood also has clashed over the years with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, whose reservation is in his legislative district, over issues ranging from law enforcement to history. He debated passionately against the tribe’s legislation last year to let tribal police officers enforce state laws on the reservation; it failed in the House by one vote.

In 2003, he cast the only House vote against adding the tribe’s name to Old Mission State Park at Cataldo. In 2001, he opposed a $500,000 state Department of Commerce grant to the tribe to upgrade its strawboard plant, asking in a letter to the department, “Why are we constantly catering to the Tribe?” In 2000, Harwood cast the deciding vote in committee to kill a bill to remove the word “squaw” from Idaho place names, after tribal members testified that the word was “very, very offensive.”

“I don’t think the word is derogatory,” Harwood said then.

Harwood, 64, is a retired business owner; he and wife Carole have three children, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

With Harwood stepping down and Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow, deciding to run for Latah County commissioner instead of seeking a ninth term in the Legislature, a new North Idaho legislative district that will take in all of Latah and Benewah counties has dropped from containing three House incumbents to just one, so it now will have an open House seat.

Harwood said, “I’ve got a gentleman that’s going to run that I’m going to support,” Ken Devries of St. Maries.

The candidate filing period for the Idaho Legislature opens on Monday.

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