MERIDIAN — Anti-government activist Ammon Bundy announced on Saturday his bid for Idaho governor along with a platform to eliminate property and income taxes, federal control over land and public health mandates.
Bundy cooked hamburgers from his Emmett ranch before announcing his campaign and platform, “Keep Idaho Idaho,” to a crowd of hundreds at Julius M. Kleiner Park in Meridian.
“I have ridden through the fires several times, and because of God’s protection I came out unscathed,” Bundy said. “I know that securing liberty for the people of Idaho is what I was built for.”
Bundy was joined by his parents Cliven and Carol Bundy as well as his brother, Ryan Bundy, all of whom live in Nevada. Ryan Bundy made an unsuccessful bid for Nevada governor three years ago.
The Bundys gained fame in 2014, when they engaged in an armed standoff with Bureau of Land Management agents at their Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch amid a dispute over Cliven Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees. Ammon, Ryan and Cliven Bundy were indicted and served jail time, but they were later acquitted.
“We made a stand awhile back, and we’re kind of famous for it,” Carol Bundy said Saturday. “We didn’t stand so you and you and you didn’t have to. We stood so you and you and you would know how.”
In 2016, Ammon Bundy led an armed occupation of Oregon’s Malheur Wildlife Refuge — another public lands dispute, which led to the death of one militant, LaVoy Finicum. Bundy was charged with several federal offenses, and ultimately was found not guilty.
In Idaho, Bundy has organized protests against local governments’ coronavirus health mandates using a social network, People’s Rights, which, in addition to protesting mask requirements, has been training for combat and preparing for a doomsday scenario. Last year, Bundy was barred from the Idaho State Capitol for a year, after he was arrested for trespassing. He was arrested again this spring for failing to appear at a court hearing because he refused to wear a required face mask to enter the courthouse.
Bundy will run as a Republican, joining an increasingly crowded primary race. Current Gov. Brad Little, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and four other Republicans — Jeff Cotton, Edward Humphreys, Lisa Marie and Cody Usabel — have filed campaign documentation needed to run for governor, the Associated Press reported.
Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said this month that Bundy is not welcome among GOP ranks, KTVB reported. Luna pointed out that Bundy was not a registered voter or Republican at the time he filed initial campaign paperwork.
“Furthermore, we do not support his antics or his chaotic political theater,” Luna said. “That is not the Idaho Republican Party, and we will not turn a blind eye to his behaviors.”
Boise resident Helen Martinez, 72, who attended Saturday’s rally, said she would support Bundy for governor.
“I’m very much against government,” Martinez said. “The governor we’ve got now is not doing crap.”
Martinez opposes coronavirus mandates, especially mask requirements — Little never issued a statewide mask mandate — and she doubts the seriousness of the virus.
“It’s all fake; the fake news, they’re all fake,” she said.
One goal of Bundy’s platform, “Keep Idaho Idaho,” is to make Idaho “the first health freedom and body autonomy state.” That means no mandated vaccines and no health treatments will be illegal. He did, however, pledge to end abortions.
“There’s no greater form of oppression and authoritarianism than when the government takes control of your body,” he said.
Bundy also hopes to end “immoral taxation,” including property and income taxes. Lastly, he hopes to bolster financial privacy and eliminate the federal government’s authority over Idaho’s public lands, which make up about two-thirds of the state.
“Land equals wealth, and in Idaho it’s untapped wealth,” he said.