|United States Senator
January 3, 2009
Serving with Mike Crapo
|Preceded by||Larry Craig|
|Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee|
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||David Vitter|
|39th and 41st Lieutenant Governor of Idaho|
January 1, 2007 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||Mark Ricks|
|Succeeded by||Brad Little|
January 3, 2003 – May 26, 2006
|Preceded by||Jack Riggs|
|Succeeded by||Mark Ricks|
|31st Governor of Idaho|
May 26, 2006 – January 1, 2007
|Preceded by||Dirk Kempthorne|
|Succeeded by||Butch Otter|
|President pro tempore of the Idaho Senate|
December 1982 – December 1, 1988
|Preceded by||Reed Budge|
|Succeeded by||Mike Crapo|
|Member of the Idaho Senate
from the 18th district
|Preceded by||Roger Madsen|
|Succeeded by||Sheila Sorensen|
|Member of the Idaho Senate
from the 21st district
|Succeeded by||Mike Burkett|
|Born||James Elroy Risch
May 3, 1943
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Vicki Risch (1968-present)|
|Education||University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
University of Idaho, Moscow (BS, JD)
James Elroy Risch (born May 3, 1943) is an American Republican politician, rancher, and attorney from Ada County, Idaho, currently serving as the junior United States Senator from Idaho. He previously served as the 39th and 41st Lieutenant Governor (2003–2006, 2007–2009) and the 31st Governor (2006–2007) of Idaho.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Risch is the son of Helen B. (née Levi) and Elroy A. Risch, a lineman for the local telephone company. His father was of German descent, and his mother was of Irish, Scottish, and English ancestry. Risch attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1961 to 1963 and then transferred to the University of Idaho in Moscow, where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He obtained his BS in Forestry in 1965, and continued his education at the university's College of Law. He served on Law Review and the College of Law Advisory Committee before receiving his JD in 1968.
Risch entered politics in 1970 in Boise at age 27, winning election as Ada County prosecuting attorney. While serving in this capacity, he taught undergraduate classes in criminal justice at Boise State College and served as the president of the state's prosecuting attorneys association.
Risch was first elected to the Idaho Senate from Ada County in 1974. He entered the state senate leadership in 1976, serving as Majority Leader and later as President Pro Tempore. During his first senatorial term, Risch earned the reputation of being a "bully" due to his efforts to pressure more junior members to vote with him.
In the second political defeat of his career, Risch lost the 1994 primary election for a state senate seat to Roger Madsen. Risch returned to the state senate in 1995, as an appointee of Governor Phil Batt, who had named Madsen as the state commerce department's director.
In January 2001, Risch had his eye on the lieutenant governor's seat vacated by "Butch" Otter, who resigned to take his elected seat in Congress. However, Governor Dirk Kempthorne appointed state senator Jack Riggs of Coeur d'Alene to the post instead. The following year Risch defeated Riggs in the Republican primary and won the general election, spending $360,000 of his own money to win the $27,000 a year, part-time post.
On May 26, 2006, Risch became Governor of Idaho when Kempthorne resigned to become the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Risch appointed Mark Ricks to serve as his Lt. Governor. Risch served out the remaining seven months of Kempthorne's term, which ended in January 2007.
Risch was expected to enter the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary to succeed Kempthorne, who was completing his second term at this time of his federal appointment. However, U.S. Congressman Otter had announced his candidacy for the position in December 2004, and had gained a significant headstart in campaigning and fundraising. In November 2005, Risch announced his intention to seek election again as lieutenant governor.
Risch was unopposed for the 2006 Republican nomination for lieutenant governor and defeated former Democratic U.S. congressman Larry LaRocco in the general election. Risch's term as governor ended in January 2007 and he returned to the role of lieutenant governor. Risch resigned as lieutenant governor to take his seat in the Senate on January 3, 2009. Governor Otter named state Senator Brad Little of Emmett as Risch's replacement.
On August 31, 2007, the Associated Press reported that Risch could possibly be appointed United States Senator by Governor Butch Otter to succeed the embattled Larry Craig. The Idaho Statesman reported on September 1, however, that Otter's spokesman denied Risch had been selected and that the governor "has made no decision and he is not leaning toward anybody." On October 9, Risch announced that he would run for the now open Senate seat. In May 2008, Risch was selected as the Republican nominee for Craig's open seat in the U.S. Senate. He defeated Larry LaRocco, a former Democratic congressman, with 58% of the vote. Risch defeated LaRocco in two previous elections: for a state Senate seat in 1986 and for lieutenant governor in 2006.
Risch won the Republican primary with 79.9% of the vote.
Republican Senator Mike Crapo praised Risch as "results-oriented".
|Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 1996|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||2,299||76.0%|
|Republican||Emil Loya, Jr.||709||24.0%|
|Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 1996|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||9,543||67.5%|
|Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 1998|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||2,656||67.4%|
|Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 1998|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||8,742||76.0%|
|Idaho State Senate District 18 Republican Primary election, 2000|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||3,222||50.4%|
|Idaho State Senate District 18 election, 2000|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||12,917||80.3%|
|Idaho Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary election, 2002|
|Idaho Lieutenant Governor election, 2002|
|Idaho Lieutenant Governor election, 2006|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||259,648||58.3%|
|Constitution||William Charles Wellisch||10,460||2.4%|
|U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Idaho, 2008|
|Republican||Hal James Styles, Jr.||2,082||1.7%|
|U.S. Senate election in Idaho, 2008|
|U.S. Senate Republican Primary election in Idaho, 2014|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||119,209||79.9%|
|Republican||Jeremy "T" Anderson||29,939||20.1%|
|U.S. Senate election in Idaho, 2014|
|Republican||Jim Risch (inc.)||285,596||65.3%|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim Risch.|
|Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
|Governor of Idaho
|Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
|Party political offices|
|Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Idaho
|United States Senate|
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
Served alongside: Mike Crapo
|Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee
|Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee
|United States order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
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