Pocatello Unitarian Universalist Fellowship to host guest speaker

Richard Stallings

Former Idaho Congressman Richard Stallings has announced his endorsement of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.

Stallings cited Bloomberg’s appeal to moderate voters, pragmatism and success as mayor of New York City as reasons why he’s best suited to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election — a task which Stallings said is his top goal.

“When Trump won, I was stunned,” Stallings said. “I did not think we would stoop to that. He (is) probably the least qualified man ever to occupy the White House.”

Stallings was a Democrat who represented Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District from 1985 to 1993.

While initially leaning toward supporting former Vice President Joe Biden, Stallings eventually decided on Bloomberg, in part due to Biden’s waning support according to national polls. Stallings finds Bloomberg’s politics to be similar to Biden’s, only “without all the baggage.”

Stallings also finds Bloomberg’s presidential aims more realistic and palatable than those of Sen. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, who along with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has adopted the “Medicare for all” platform, which has been criticized as “unrealistic” by moderate candidates including Bloomberg, Biden and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

“You have to realize you’ll have to work with the Senate (to pass Medicare for all),” Stallings said, alluding to the Republican majority currently held in the Senate which would make passing the progressive measure difficult.

Bloomberg was a late entry into the race for Democratic nominee, not officially announcing his intent to enter the race until Nov. 24, several months after most other candidates. Bloomberg’s late entry into the race combined with spending over $200 million on campaign advertising have drawn criticism from Sanders and other candidates, who allege Bloomberg is trying to “buy” his way into the race.

Stallings sees Bloomberg’s willingness to spend nine figures worth of his own money as a selling point, not a criticism.

“Everyone has to have money to run,” Stallings said. “Bloomberg is self-funded, and has committed to continue spending his money, win or lose, to see that Trump is defeated.”

Stallings said representatives from the campaigns of multiple Democratic nominees have reached out to him to gauge his interest in campaigning in Idaho on their behalf.

During his four terms as congressman, Stallings served under both Republican and Democratic presidential administrations. A member of more than a dozen U.S. House committees during his 14 years in office, Stallings was appointed Nuclear Waste Negotiator by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. He served in this capacity until the dissolution of the position in 1995.

Stallings ran against Republican Mike Simpson in 1998 but was defeated. Simpson still holds the seat. Stallings was both the Idaho Democratic Party chairman and a member of the Pocatello City Council from 2001-2007, and he is also a former executive director of Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services.

In 2014, Stallings again ran against Simpson for the District 2 House seat he had previously occupied but again was defeated.

Since leaving public office, Stallings has taught courses at the College of Southern Nevada and Weber State University. Ranae, his wife of 52 years, passed away in 2015. He married Rebecca Richards in 2018, and the couple recently relocated to the Pocatello area.