Controversial eastern Idaho elk rancher Rex Rammell says he’ll announce on Tuesday that he’s going to run for the U.S. Senate – Larry Craig’s seat, to be exact. “Guess who is my likely opponent? Jim Risch,” he chortled over the phone. “We’re gonna go head-to-head in the primary.” Risch, a Republican, has said he’ll run for the seat if Craig decides not to seek re-election. Democrat Larry LaRocco – who faced off with Risch in this year’s lieutenant governor race – also is running.
Rammell already went up against then-Gov. Risch after dozens of Rammell’s domestic elk, which were raised on a fenced ranch where out-of-staters paid hefty fees to shoot them, escaped into the wild. Risch ordered them all killed, over Rammell’s vehement objections. Later, Rammell’s daughter Amanda was crowned Miss Idaho, and said she’d refuse to pose for a photo with Gov. Risch because of the dispute. Amid concern over threats to Idaho’s wild elk herds, the Legislature this year seriously debated banning “canned hunts” or “shooter bull operations” and imposing other restrictions on domestic elk ranching, but ended up not passing anything. Game ranching already is illegal in Wyoming and Washington, and while it’s allowed in Montana, voters there have banned “canned hunts.”
Rammell, a veterinarian, was arrested in September during the hunt for his escaped elk after he sat on a domesticated elk that had been shot by state Fish and Game officers, and refused to move.