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If Rammell is a loon, what are legislators?

Jim Fisher
May 18, 2009
Lewiston Morning Tribune

Rex Rammell's presence on the ballot in next year's Republican primary for Idaho governor, assuming he stays there, won't be much challenge for incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, assuming Otter makes the race. Most voters now see Rammell as the loosest of cannons.

But the former elk rancher and veterinarian's platform is a test for members of the party's right wing, with whom Otter jousted unsuccessfully during the recent legislative session - and for voters. Cast even the briefest glance at his list of objectives, and how much different are they from those of the people who dominate the House Republican caucus?

Rammell calls, for example, for forcing the federal government to stop trampling on the state's prerogatives. How he plans to do that is anyone's guess, but in announcing his switch from candidate for Congress to candidate for governor Wednesday, Rammell vowed he would succeed.

"Their usurpation of our state's rights will be stopped, so help me God," he writes in his platform.

So how does that differ from the resolution legislators approved this year telling Uncle Sam he'd better start respecting Idaho sovereignty? If anything, the resolution, which amounts to no more than junk mail to Congress, is more extreme than what Rammell outlines.

It charges that federal officials have destroyed the soundness of the U.S. dollar by delegating their authority to the Federal Reserve System. That would certainly come as news to investors around the planet who have made the dollar the world's reserve currency, and although people who know better, like Lewiston Sen. Joe Stegner, pointed out its absurdity, the resolution easily passed both chambers.

House members endorsed it 51-17.

Rammell also has his sights on the wolves reintroduced to Idaho several years ago and removed this year from the federal endangered species list. He says he will rid the state of them.

"It is not in the best interests of our native wildlife ... to maintain any number" of the animals, writes the man whose escaped domestic elk were killed by the state to prevent them from spreading disease or inferior genes to wild elk.

Eliminating wolves from Idaho may be an even taller order than forcing the federal government to cut Idaho more slack, but again, which is stranger: that or Rep. Phil Hart's legislation this year making it a felony for any person to introduce a dangerous animal into the state?

The Athol Republican originally intended to level the charge at government agencies, but learned that was not legally possible. The resulting neutering of his measure did not prevent the House from approving it 46-24. In this instance, however, the Senate mercifully euthanized the beast.

Rammell also calls for removing all illegal immigrants from Idaho, making English the state's official language and other traditional goals of the GOP's right wing.

At one time, that wing represented a minority of the state's dominant party. But as this year's legislative session and vote by rank-and-file party members to unseat party Chairman Kirk Sullivan revealed, Idaho Republicanism is becoming little different from Rammellism. - J.F

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