James 'Jim' E. Risch

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-2752 (Main phone number)
Telephone:208-275-0062 (Main campaign number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Milwaukee, WI
Residence:Boise, ID
First Elected:2008


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: University of Idaho


Graduate education: University of Idaho


Jim Risch was born in Milwaukee and lives in Boise, Idaho. He attended the University of Idaho, where he earned a bachelor's degree in forestry in 1965 and a law degree in 1968.

Risch was elected Ada County prosecuting attorney in 1970. He then spent more than 20 years in the Idaho Senate, though he lost re-election bids in 1988 and 1994, returning in 1995 after being appointed by Gov. Phil Batt.

Risch served three terms as lieutenant governor before being appointed governor in 2006, when President George W. Bush named then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne secretary of the interior.

Risch won election to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

He and his wife, Vicki, have three sons.


Jim Risch announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate on Oct. 9, 2007 surrounded by members of the Republican establishment, including U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and state GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan. It was a sign the state's dominant party wanted one of its mainstays to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Larry Craig, who chose not to seek re-election after his arrest in a gay-sex sting at a Minnesota airport.

Risch spent the first few months of 2009 getting his bearings and learning the issues that come along with transitioning from a life in state government to practicing politics on the federal level.

He made his views as a fiscal conservative known with a few early votes. During a trip back home in March 2009, Risch lambasted the approximately $800 federal economic stimulus bill in a speech at the Idaho statehouse. He voted against the legislation, saying it was freighted with too many pet projects and lacked enough focus on the real problems facing the country.

Since then, he's continued to represent Idaho's GOP political values. He was critical of the 2010 health care reform bill, and in 2010 Risch and other Western Republican Senators drafted legislation to remove wolves from the endangered species list amid frustration with wolves being delisted and then protected again because of judicial rulings.

He has also been among the Republicans taking a firm stance on cutting the federal budget. Ultimately, Risch was one of 76 senators who voted in August 2011 for a plan to raise the debt ceiling that was hammered out with President Obama and Democrats. The deal called for eventually cutting $2.4 billion from spending. At the time, Risch said the plan was far from perfect, but a decent start to reigning in spending.

Risch, a former county prosecutor, was one of three Republicans on the Senate Ethics Committee in charge of the February 2009 inquiry of Democratic Sen. Roland Burris, who was being reviewed for acknowledging he raised money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich before being appointed to the Senate.

During his brief stint as Idaho governor, starting in 2004, Risch used his influence to effectively bar construction of coal-fired power plants in the state. He also worked to rewrite National Forest roadless rules for Idaho, an effort that's won mixed reviews from environmentalists and is being used as a model in other western states.

Risch is known in Idaho as a self-made millionaire who built his fortune as one of the state's most successful trial lawyers. In September 2009, an analysis by the Washington, D.C., publication Roll Call ranked him the 13th-wealthiest member of Congress.

Risch's wife, Vicki, has managed many of her husband's campaigns and serves as one of his chief strategists.

Committee Assignments: Foreign Relations; Energy and Natural Resources; Select Ethics; Joint Economic; Select Intelligence; Small Business and Entrepreneurship

American Conservative Union Rating: 95

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 10


Jim Risch won his May 2014 primary, he will face Nels Mitchell in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 10, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018