BOISE — A third Democrat has announced a bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by second-term GOP Sen. Jim Risch.
Jim Vandermaas, who announced his run by issuing a press release over the weekend, ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat in 2018, taking 15.8% of the vote in a three-way Democratic primary. Cristina McNeil won that primary, but lost to current GOP Rep. Russ Fulcher the following November.
Two other Democrats, Boise businesswoman Nancy Harris and Shelley farmer Travis Oler, already have launched their campaigns, as has Risch, who is seeking a third six-year term.
Vandermaas, 62, a retired law enforcement officer, volunteer firefighter and paramedic and businessman from Eagle, said Monday that he wants to “find a way to get back to the middle — what’s really going to benefit everybody.”
“I am running as a Democrat, but … we must stop putting party before country, and before the needs of all our people,” he said. “The divisiveness of entrenched party politics is interfering with our ability to get those things done that will benefit all Idahoans and our country.”
In his release, Vandermaas said it’s time for Risch to retire — “actually, past time.”
“We don’t want just any candidate running against Risch, but rather someone who can beat him with detailed policy plans,” he said.
Among those, he said he favors a “dual-payer health care” system, with “a base of ‘Medicare for all’” combined with a second layer of commercial insurance coverage; immigration reforms including “a clear path to citizenship that is fair to all”; and efforts to fight climate change including strong incentives for hybrid and electric vehicles, promoting wind and solar energy and controlling CO2 emissions.
He also was sharply critical of President Donald Trump, who he said “has been helping the enemies of our country, all to retain and profit from power,” and of Risch’s support for Trump.
Idaho’s 2020 primary election is May 19.