TREASURE VALLEY -; A Gem County farmer who legally changed his name to Pro-Life will get that name on the ballot for Idaho's U.S. Senate race this year.
State officials would not let Pro-Life, formerly Marvin "Pro-Life" Richardson, use his middle name on the ballot when he ran for governor in 2006. Secretary of State officials said the state's policy prohibits slogans from being on the ballot.
But this year Pro-Life, a 66-year-old organic strawberry farmer from Letha, is running for U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's seat as an independent. And because his full and only name is Pro-Life, the Secretary of State has no choice but to put it on the ballot.
Having the words "Pro-Life" on the ballot may confuse people and hurt the pro-life movement, the executive director of Idaho Chooses Life said. But Pro-Life himself considers the situation a victory for pro-lifers. He says he will run for the highest Idaho office on the ballot every two years for the rest of his life.
"I think it's just and I think it's proper," to have "Pro-Life" on the ballot, Pro-Life said. "If I save one baby's life, it's worth it."
Idaho Chooses Life executive director David Ripley fears voters will think Pro-Life on the ballot is a position and not a candidate, and that they may vote for Pro-Life instead of a more viable pro-life candidate. He also said people could vote for Pro-Life and a pro-life candidate in the U.S. Senate race, thereby nullifying their vote because they cast two votes for one office.
"I'm pretty concerned about it," Ripley said. "I think that could cause a lot of confusion out there ... (It's) more likely to undermine the pro-life movement by having a lot of pro-life votes discounted."
Ripley said he knows and respects Pro-Life, but there is already a clear choice for voters for the U.S. Senate in pro-life candidate Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, a Republican, and pro-choice candidate Larry LaRocco, a Democrat.
Pro-Life got less than 2 percent of the vote when he ran for governor. He said his new name could bring him 5 percent of the vote. He will not be on the ballot until November unless another independent candidate runs in his race in the May 27 primary.
Pro-Life's wife, independent Kirsten Faith Richardson, is running for the District 11 state Senate seat.
Pro-Life holds strong views on abortion. He said doctors who perform abortions and women who get abortions should be charged with murder. He also said the pro-life movement should use the word "murder" whenever referring to abortion.
"Marvin is of the opinion that shock and awe is the way to wake people up to what's happening," Ripley said. "I don't particularly share that view."
But Idaho Values Alliance executive director Bryan Fischer said Pro-Life might be ahead of his time.
"He may take issues that are more extreme than a lot of pro-lifers would take," Fischer said, "but I think decades from now we're going to look back and think that he was pretty close to the mark."
Pro-Life's being a one-issue candidate, or being perceived as a one-issue candidate, will hurt his campaign, Fischer said. But Pro-Life said he takes stances on other issues, too. He said he thinks there should be laws against homosexuality, adultery and fornication. And he calls tax collection for public schools "collective theft."