Right-wing rancher Ammon Bundy has filed to run for governor of Idaho next year — despite being banned from entering the state’s Capitol grounds.
NBC News first reported Bundy’s candidacy.
Bundy aims to unseat Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R), who faced a recall campaign last year by anti-government activists over his coronavirus restrictions. The effort was unsuccessful after failing to collect enough signatures to trigger a vote.
Bundy, who is not currently registered to vote, told NBC News on Monday he has not yet formally announced a gubernatorial run.
“The people of Idaho are very freedom-minded,” Bundy told NBC News. “I had never desired (to run for office), but I knew as early as 2017 that I would run for governor of Idaho.”
Bundy said he views his candidacy as an act of protest.
“I want to make the point that I’m not very happy with the Republican Party. I would never be a Democrat,” Bundy told NBC News. “The Republican Party has not done a very good job of standing for liberty and securing the rights for the people.”
Bundy has been banned from the Idaho state Capitol building since last August after he and dozens of members of his People’s Rights organization — a Bundy-led nationwide and extremely eclectic “Uber-like protective service” for COVID-19 protesters across 16 states — staged a series of protests at the Statehouse over coronavirus restrictions. Bundy was arrested at the Idaho State Capitol twice in two days on charges of trespassing and resisting and obstructing officers as part of a protest while the state legislature considered coronavirus-related measures.
However, the ban did not deter Bundy from returning to the Idaho State Capitol in April, when he was arrested twice within two hours. Bundy was first arrested for suspicion of trespassing and was removed from the building. Bundy returned to the building a second time after being bailed from his initial arrest, and was arrested once again.
The subsequent arrests came a month after Bundy’s refusal to wear a mask at his jury trial on charges that he trespassed the state capitol last summer to protest against COVID-19 restrictions prompted the judge to slap him with a new charge for failure to appear.
Bundy’s crusade against mask-wearing came as no surprise.
Last October, Bundy ruined a football game at the high school his son attends for refusing to wear a mask, leading school officials to cancel the game at halftime.
Bundy rose to prominence on the fringe right for leading the weeks-long armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016.
TPM reported in October that researchers found that membership in the Bundy-led People’s Rights extended far beyond Bundy’s relatively niche appeal by housing a spectrum of ideologies under one roof that wouldn’t seem to have common ground otherwise. The group includes tens of thousands of anti-vaxxers, sovereign citizens, Second Amendment die-hards and online edgelords obsessed with “Zionist Banksters” united against coronavirus restrictions.