Jim Risch

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Jim Risch
Jim Risch official portrait.jpg
U.S Senator from Idaho
Assumed office
January 3, 2009
Serving with Mike Crapo
Preceded by Larry Craig
39th and 41st Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
In office
January 1, 2007 – January 3, 2009
Governor Butch Otter
Preceded by Mark Ricks
Succeeded by Brad Little
In office
January 3, 2003 – May 26, 2006
Governor Dirk Kempthorne
Preceded by Jack Riggs
Succeeded by Mark Ricks
31st Governor of Idaho
In office
May 26, 2006 – January 1, 2007
Lieutenant Mark Ricks
Preceded by Dirk Kempthorne
Succeeded by Butch Otter
President pro tempore of the Idaho Senate
In office
December 1982 – December 1, 1988
Preceded by Reed Budge
Succeeded by Mike Crapo
Member of the Idaho Senate
from District 18
In office
1995 – December 1, 2002
Preceded by Roger Madsen
Succeeded by Sheila Sorensen
Member of the Idaho Senate
from District 21
In office
1974 – December 1, 1988
Succeeded by Mike Burkett
Personal details
Born James Elroy Risch
(1943-05-03) May 3, 1943 (age 73)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Vicki Risch
Children 3
Alma mater University of Idaho (B.S, J.D)
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website http://www.risch.senate.gov/

James Elroy "Jim" Risch (born May 3, 1943) is an American Republican politician, rancher, and attorney from Ada County, Idaho, currently serving as the junior United States Senator from Idaho.[1] He previously served as the 39th and 41st Lieutenant Governor (2003–2006, 2007–2009) and the 31st Governor (2006–2007) of Idaho.

Early life[edit]

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Risch is the son of Helen B. (née Levi) and Elroy A. Risch, a lineman for the local telephone company. His father was of German descent, and his mother was of Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry.[2] Risch attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1961 to 1963, then transferred to the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.[3] He obtained his B.S. in Forestry in 1965,[4] and continued his education at the university's College of Law, serving on Law Review and the College of Law Advisory Committee,[5] receiving his J.D. in 1968.[6]

Risch entered politics in 1970 in Boise at age 27, winning election as Ada County prosecuting attorney. While serving in this capacity, he taught undergraduate classes in criminal justice at Boise State College and served as the president of the state's prosecuting attorneys association.

State politics[edit]

Idaho Senate[edit]

Risch was first elected to the Idaho Senate from Ada County in 1974. He entered the state senate leadership in 1976, serving as Majority Leader and later as President Pro Tempore. During his first senatorial term, Risch earned the reputation of being a "bully" due to his efforts to pressure more junior members to vote with him.[7]

In a dramatic upset, Risch was defeated for reelection in 1988 by Democratic political newcomer and Boise attorney Mike Burkett. As of mid-2006, it remains Idaho's most expensive legislative contest.

In the second political defeat of his career, Risch lost the 1994 primary election for a state senate seat to Roger Madsen. Risch returned to the state senate in 1995, as an appointee of Governor Phil Batt, who had named Madsen as the state commerce department's director.

First term as Lieutenant Governor[edit]

In January 2001, Risch had his eye on the lieutenant governor's seat vacated by "Butch" Otter, who resigned to take his elected seat in Congress. However, Governor Dirk Kempthorne appointed state senator Jack Riggs of Coeur d'Alene to the post instead. The following year Risch defeated Riggs in the Republican primary and won the general election, spending $360,000 of his own money to win the $27,000 a year, part-time post.


On May 26, 2006, Risch became Governor of Idaho when Kempthorne resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Risch served out the remaining seven months of Kempthorne's term, which ended in January 2007.

In August 2006, Risch called a special session of the Idaho Legislature to consider his proposed property tax reform bill, entitled the Property Tax Relief Act of 2006.

Second term as Lieutenant Governor[edit]

Risch was expected to enter the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary to succeed Kempthorne, who was completing his second term at this time of his federal appointment. However, U.S. Congressman Otter had announced his candidacy for the position in December 2004, and had gained a significant headstart in campaigning and fundraising. In November 2005, Risch announced his intention to seek election again as lieutenant governor.

Risch was unopposed for the 2006 Republican nomination for lieutenant governor and defeated former Democratic U.S. congressman Larry LaRocco in the general election. Risch's term as governor ended in January 2007 and he returned to the role of lieutenant governor. Risch resigned as lieutenant governor to take his seat in the Senate on January 3, 2009. Governor Otter named state Senator Brad Little of Emmett as Risch's replacement.

U.S. Senate[edit]



On August 31, 2007, the Associated Press reported that Risch could possibly be appointed United States Senator by Governor Butch Otter to succeed the embattled Larry Craig. The Idaho Statesman reported on September 1, however, that Otter's spokesman denied Risch had been selected and that the governor "has made no decision and he is not leaning toward anybody."[8] On October 9, Risch announced that he would run for the now open Senate seat.[9] In May 2008, Risch was selected as the Republican nominee for Craig's open seat in the U.S. Senate. He defeated Larry LaRocco, a former Democratic congressman, with 58% of the vote. Risch defeated LaRocco in two previous elections: for a state Senate seat in 1986 and for lieutenant governor in 2006.


Risch won re-election to a second term in 2014. Senate candidate Nels Mitchell criticized Risch for not working with Democrats on issues in order to get legislation passed.[10]


Risch was one of four freshmen Republican Senators in the 111th Congress of 2009, with Mike Johanns of Nebraska, George LeMieux of Florida and Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Republican Senator Mike Crapo praised Risch as "results-oriented".[11]

As a senator, he supported hiding the knowledge that the CIA had tortured people as detailed in the Senate CIA Report on Torture. [12]

Committee assignments[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 2,299 76.0%
Republican Emil Loya, Jr. 709 24.0%
Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 9,543 67.5%
Democratic Donald Baumback 4,589 32.5%
Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 2,656 67.4%
Republican Sharon Ullman 1,283 32.6%
Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 1998
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 8,742 76.0%
Libertarian Daniel Adams 2,758 24.0%
Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 3,222 50.4%
Republican Jack Noble 3,171 49.6%
Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 2000
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 12,917 80.3%
Libertarian Daniel Adams 3,165 19.7%
Idaho Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch 49,607 34.6%
Republican Jack Riggs 39,689 27.7%
Republican Celia Gould 22,134 15.4%
Republican Larry Eastland 22,079 15.4%
Republican Jim Pratt 5,638 3.9%
Republican Darrell Babbitt 4,161 2.9%
Idaho Lieutenant Governor election, 2002
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch 226,017 56.2%
Democratic Bruce Perry 160,438 39.9%
Libertarian Michael Kempf 15,562 3.9%
Idaho Lieutenant Governor election, 2006
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 259,648 58.3%
Democratic Larry LaRocco 175,312 39.4%
Constitution William Charles Wellisch 10,460 2.4%
U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Idaho, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch 80,743 65.3%
Republican Scott Syme 16,660 13.5%
Republican Richard Phenneger 6,532 5.3%
Republican Neal Thompson 5,375 4.3%
Republican Fred Adams 4,987 4.0%
Republican Bill Hunter 4,280 3.5%
Republican Brian Hefner 2,915 2.4%
Republican Hal James Styles, Jr. 2,082 1.7%
U.S. Senate election in Idaho, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch 371,744 57.7%
Democratic Larry LaRocco 219,903 34.1%
Independent Rex Rammell 34,510 5.4%
Libertarian Kent Marmon 9,958 1.5%
Independent Pro-Life 8,662 1.3%
U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Idaho, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 119,209 79.9%
Republican Jeremy "T" Anderson 29,939 20.1%
U.S. Senate election in Idaho, 2014
Party Candidate Votes % +%
Republican Jim Risch (inc.) 285,596 65.3%
Democratic Nels Mitchell 151,574 34.7%


  1. ^ 2008 statewide totals
  2. ^ "risch". Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Phi Delta Theta". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1965. p. 359. 
  4. ^ "College of Forestry, '65 graduates". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1965. p. 63. 
  5. ^ "Jim Risch Biography". Jim Risch Senate. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "College of Law". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1968. p. 36. 
  7. ^ "Sen. Jim Risch". National Journal Almanac. Retrieved 16 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Hahn, Gregory (2007-09-01). "Risch rumors about replacing Sen. Craig are 'dead wrong'". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 2007-09-01. 
  9. ^ Greene, Tom (2007-10-09). "Jim Risch announces Senate bid". Coeur d'Alene Press. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  10. ^ Corr, Justin (22 October 2014). "Romney stumps for Otter, Risch in Boise". 7 KTVB. Retrieved 30 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Catalini, Michael (10 February 2014). "Idaho Sen. Jim Risch: High energy, low visibility". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Official Senate CIA Torture Report". Free Government Information (FGI). Retrieved 26 December 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Jack Riggs
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Mark Ricks
Preceded by
Dirk Kempthorne
Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Butch Otter
Preceded by
Mark Ricks
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Brad Little
Party political offices
Preceded by
Larry Craig
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Idaho
(Class 2)

2008, 2014
Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Larry Craig
U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
Served alongside: Mike Crapo
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Mark Warner
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Jeff Merkley