BOISE - Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones announced Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election to a third six-year term on the Idaho Supreme Court, and Clive Strong, longtime chief of the Natural Resources Division for the Idaho Attorney General’s office, announced that he’ll run for the court seat.
Jones, who served two terms as Idaho Attorney General before being elected to the high court in 2004, said he initially was torn about whether or not to seek re-election. Eventually, he decided he wouldn’t run if “one or more credible, qualified candidates steps forward.” He defined that as someone who has been recognized by the bar association or Judicial Council or who has “otherwise distinguished themselves in the Idaho legal community.”
While noting that as the chief justice he can’t endorse a candidate, the 73-year-old Jones said, “Clive is certainly qualified.”
Strong has been with the Idaho Attorney General’s office for 33 years. He was the lead attorney for the state in the Snake River Basin Adjudication, a 27-year legal case that decreed more than 158,000 water rights. He has argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and numerous cases before the Idaho Supreme Court. And he was recommended by the Judicial Council for an appellate court seat several years ago.
Strong also was recognized by the American Bar Association in 2014 as its environment, energy and resources government attorney of the year; it’s among an array of awards and recognitions he’s amassed in his legal career.
Launching his campaign on Wednesday, Strong said, “As a native Idahoan who has lived and worked throughout the state, I have the background and breadth of experience required to be an effective Supreme Court justice.”
Already, Strong has lined up endorsements from House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, former Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus and former Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.
The deadline to file for the court position – and for all offices up in Idaho’s May 17 election, including every seat in the state Legislature – is this Friday.
Jones said he’s in “good shape” and said, “If nobody had stepped forward I would have run for re-election, and served the full six years. I think I’m physically and mentally capable of doing that. … But since my criteria were met, I think, well, there are a lot of other things I can do.”
Among them: “I’m thinking about getting into writing. I’ve got several books in my head.”
An Idaho native, Jones is a decorated Vietnam veteran, served as an aide to then-Sen. Len B. Jordan for three years, and worked as a lawyer in private practice in Jerome and in Boise.
Strong also is an Idaho native, born and raised in the Magic Valley. A graduate of Wendell High School, he holds both bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Idaho and a masters of law degree from the University of Michigan.
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