Ammon Bundy, a controversial activist and Idaho gubernatorial candidate, announced this week that he is no longer vying for the state’s Republican Party nomination and instead competing as an independent candidate.
“The Republican Party platform is the platform I stand behind,” Bundy said in a statement released Thursday. “But the Republican establishment in Idaho is full of filth and corruption and they refuse to put forth the party platform.”
A local radio host first broke the news Wednesday, stating that Bundy would drop out of the primary and endorse Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a Republican. Bundy denied this, calling the report “lazy and tabloid journalism.”
Bundy announced his candidacy last year and released a platform centered on shrinking the size of government and promoting individual liberty. His “Keep Idaho IDAHO” plan centers on “taking back” federally owned lands and placing them under local ownership.
His announcement that he is leaving a crowded GOP primary likely won’t disappoint party leaders in the state. 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,” The Associated Press reported.
Bundy and his father, Cliven, are well-known anti-government activists, stemming from their role in the 2014 so-called “Battle of Bunkerville,” a dispute over the family’s claimed right to graze cattle on public lands in Nevada. Hundreds of protesters, many of them armed, came to the Bundy ranch to confront Bureau of Land Management officials who had confiscated Bundy cattle. The standoff made national news and turned Cliven and Ammon into well-known figures in anti-government circles.
In early 2016, Bundy led an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, protesting the incarceration of two Oregon ranchers charged with arson on public lands. Ammon and his brother, Ryan, were acquitted of related charges, while 18 other Malheur protesters pleaded guilty or were acquitted of trespass or conspiracy charges.
Bundy’s decision to run for governor first came while in solitary confinement in 2017, awaiting his trial after the Malheur takeover, he told the Deseret News last fall.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Bundy has become a staunch opponent of pandemic restrictions, calling them “a great assault upon mankind.” He was arrested six times while protesting COVID-19 mandates, one resulting in a one-year ban from Idaho’s state Capitol (which expired in August) after being arrested twice in a 24-hour span.
Bundy’s decision to run as an independent stems from his belief that the Idaho Republican Party has become “corrupt and wicked,” and that his platform more accurately represents a true conservative position.
“I am certain that by unifying Idahoans behind the actual Republican platform we can take back control of the Idaho government and restore the conservative values that have made Idaho such a great place to live,” his Thursday statement read.