When I wrote Please Do Not Sit on the Elk, Dr. Rammell last September, the idea of Rex Rammell wanting to change his seat to one in the U.S. Senate didn’t rear its….sorry.
The word “elk” draws readers by the thousands to New West, and clearly I wasn’t taking things seriously enough. I thought a guy who let 160 elk escape from his canned-hunt elk ranch and didn’t seem concerned was, well, six antlers short of a full rack.
After all, Rammell was arrested, but acquitted, of pestering and aggravating state wildlife officers after then-Gov. Jim Risch ordered Fish and Game to kill the escaped elk lest they spread disease. But according to Rammell and a substantial number of New West readers, that’s nonsense.
Since the 2006 and 2007 events which have shaped Rammell’s public image, he has sold his Chief Joseph ranch and filed a million-dollar lawsuit against Idaho for transgressions he alleges, including killing his elk.
The many stories about Rammell or elk have attracted more comments than any other subject at New West. It’s been an excellent education in wildlife management, cultural differences, herd diseases, and other things an Idaho writer ought to know about.
I swear, I didn’t know how many of you were concerned about elk. As a nonhunter, I just want there to be enough healthy elk to balance the environment properly, and though I’d prefer nobody shot them, reality says that isn’t practical or possibly even smart. I honestly never thought about elk for more than a nanosecond before I joined New West.
But now, Rammell wants us to think about him without the word “elk” involved. He wants to run in the Republican primary for the Senate seat now held by Larry Craig. With Lt. Gov. Risch saying he’ll probably run if Craig doesn’t seek re-election, that would pit Rammell against the guy he thinks killed his elk. Throw in Congressman Mike Simpson’s possible candidacy, and you’ve got quite a show.
Rammell has run for state legislature twice, in 2002 and 2004. The first time, he finished fourth in a five-way primary. Doesn’t bode well for his general popularity.
Rammell told Shawna Gamache of the Idaho Statesman that if there is a primary between him and Risch that he will win.
From newspaper accounts and candidate questionnaires from his former races, it’s clear that Rammell is a state’s-rights libertarian style Republican from the old school. He strongly supports home schooling and doesn’t like the teacher’s union, for example; and he clearly rebels against what he sees as government interference. So what makes him so different from Jim Risch or Larry Craig?
I’m going to venture an opinion and say that Risch and Craig show much cooler heads, plus the ability to compromise and to occasionally see things in shades of grey.
Then there’s the concept of sending someone to the U.S. Senate who believes that one breaks the law in which one does not believe. Rammell’s bad judgement, grandstanding, tendency to throw lawsuits around and disregard for his citizen responsibilities just don’t recommend him for a seat at the table with serious lawmakers.
This time, it’s not about elk.