Rebecca Boone
Rebecca is a correspondent based in Idaho.
boiseboonerboone@ap.org

Bundy leaves GOP primary, runs for governor as independent

February 17, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Far-right activist Ammon Bundy has dropped out of the Republican primary in Idaho’s gubernatorial race, saying he will run for governor as an independent in November’s general election instead.

In a prepared statement released Thursday morning, Bundy criticized Idaho’s GOP as “corrupt and wicked.”

“The Republican Party platform is the platform I stand behind but the Republican establishment in Idaho is full of filth and corruption,” Bundy wrote.

There appears to be no love lost between Bundy and the Idaho GOP. When Bundy first entered the race, Idaho GOP Chairman Tom Luna formally disavowed him, issuing a statement decrying Bundy’s “antics and political theater” and saying Bundy “is not welcome in the Idaho Republican Party.”

Bundy attracted international attention when he led a group of armed activists in the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to protest federal control of public lands. He was later acquitted of federal charges in connection with the occupation.

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Last year he was convicted of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting or obstructing law enforcement officers at the Idaho Statehouse, stemming from an August 2020 incident in which he refused to leave a closed auditorium at the Statehouse because he said it should be open to the public.

He was later charged with failing to appear in court after he missed a trial date because he refused to wear a mask, which was required to enter the courthouse, and with contempt of court. A hearing in that case is scheduled for March 23.

Bundy also faces another trespassing charge for returning to the Statehouse in April 2021, allegedly violating a one-year ban put in place after previous trespassing charge. A hearing in that case is set for March 14.

In the statement released Thursday, Bundy criticized several Republican political figures for their own brushes with the law, including a former GOP party chairman who faced stalking and drug charges and other elected officials who were charged with drunken driving.

Bundy denied reports that he would endorse Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin in the primary in exchange for her endorsement in the general election if she loses, though he said it was an “intriguing idea.” Despite running as an independent, Bundy said he hoped to unite Idaho residents behind the Republican platform.

The Republican race for the governor’s seat is crowded, with incumbent Gov. Brad Little far ahead of the rest of the candidates in fundraising.

Other candidates include Eagle financial advisor Ed Humphreys and Bonner County Commissioner Steven Bradshaw. Would-be candidates have until March 11 to file.