|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 (m. 1968)|
|Education||University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
University of Idaho, Moscow (BS, JD)
James Elroy Risch (born May 3, 1943) is 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 B.S. 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 J.D. 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.
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".
On Aug. 11, 2017, Risch, in an interview aired on the PBS Newshour, warmly endorsed President Trump's rhetoric threatening North Korea with military destruction in the event that country launched missiles at Guam. 
Risch opposes abortion. In 2013, Risch co-sponsored the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would have made it illegal for a minor to travel over state lines to have an abortion to avoid parental consent laws.
Risch was endorsed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and was given an "A+" grade by the organization for his voting record on NRA-related issues. Chris W. Cox, chairman of the NRA-Political Victory Fund stated that "Jim is a battle-tested ally who will make sure billionaire gun control zealots like Michael Bloomberg are stopped from destroying our freedoms."
In 2013, Risch, along with twelve other Republican Senators, threatened to filibuster any bills set forth by Democrats that the Republicans perceived would be a threat to 2nd Amendment rights, including expanded background checks. In an interview with National Public Radio, Risch stated that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms also means "a right to purchase one [a gun], to sell one, to trade in one, and you really have to have a robust market if indeed you're going to have a constitutional right." He also expressed that adding additional background checks would mean that gun dealers would "have to deal with the federal bureaucracy, which is very, very difficult to deal with."
In 2016, Risch voted against the Feinstein Amendment, which would have blocked the sale of guns to individuals on the terrorist watch list and Democrat Chris Murphy's proposal to expand background checks related to sales at gun shows and online sales. Risch voted in favor for both the Republican backed bills, specifically John Cornyn's proposal that would create a 72-hour delay for anyone on the terrorist watch list buying a gun and Charles Grassley and Ted Cruz's proposal to alert authorities of a terrorist tried to buy a firearm.
Risch supports the "repeal and replace" of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. He voted against the ACA in 2010. He stated in 2017 that “Health care is one of – if not the most – complex and personal issues … and it is incredibly hard to resolve."
|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
|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
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Senators by seniority
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