Boise Democrat, Lawyer Officially Launches Bid For U.S. Senate

Jan 14, 2014

At his campaign announcement Mitchell was backed by people holding anti-Risch signs. The most prominent read "No More Career Politicians."
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise lawyer Nels Mitchell wants to take Idaho’s U.S. Senate seat away from Republican Jim Risch. Mitchell, a Democrat officially announced his candidacy Tuesday in Boise.

Mitchell grew up in Idaho, but most of his 30-plus year career has been spent in California and New York. That includes a stint at the Securities and Exchange Commission.  

He returned to Boise in 2008 and works for the law firm Mauk and Burgoyne, and teaches part-time for his alma mater, the University of Idaho College of Law.

Mitchell's only direct political experience was as Boise High School's student body president more than 40 years ago, and class vice president at Columbia University. For Mitchell, running for the U.S. Senate is a return to old aspirations.

“When I was growing up here in Boise [Senator] Frank Church was my hero,” Mitchell says. “He was student body president at Boise High 29 years before I was. There was a time when I was younger that I thought I’d be the next Frank Church. Well, life has a way of getting in the way.”

But Mitchell wants to turn his lack of experience into an advantage. He’s focusing his campaign on painting his opponent, Republican Jim Risch, as a career politician who is out of touch with Idahoans.

In his announcement speech Mitchell expressed admiration for former governor Cecil Andrus. The two spoke afterward and Andrus advised him to always know where the cameras are.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

“Our Republic is best served when new leaders step forward, serve for a time and then step aside and let the next generation of leaders step up to the plate,” Mitchell said in his campaign announcement. “I do not intend to serve more than one six year term. Six years is a long time.”

In addition to the U.S. Senate, Risch has served as Idaho’s lieutenant governor and in the state Legislature. 

Mitchell also had some more specific criticisms for Risch such as his vote not to end the government shutdown last fall and his vote against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. 

Sen. Risch responded to Mitchell's candidacy on his campaign website, writing, "This year Idahoans will once again have a clear choice between Senator Risch’s conservative philosophies or another Democrat who will go to Washington DC to grow the government and help Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi push Obama’s far left agenda during the last 2 years of his presidency."

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