Awaiting dominoes, Jimmy Farris eyes Idaho Legislature

Democrat Jimmy Farris said Monday that he’s leaning toward running for the Legislature in Boise next year, acknowledging that a rematch with GOP Congressman Raul Labrador would be a long shot.

Farris got 31 percent of the vote against Labrador last year, running his first race after a career with several teams in the NFL. The Lewiston native and former All-American receiver  at the University of Montana is renting a house in Meridian, but said he’s planning to move to Boise soon.

He said he expects an incumbent Democrat to retire, giving him an opportunity to seek an open seat. He declined to specify the district, except to say it would likely be in one of the Democratic districts in Boise: 16, 17, 18 or 19.

“I’m pretty sure I know what it’ll be, but not 100 percent because there’s a couple other things that need to happen first,” Farris said.

Last week, Farris told Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review that he planned to run in 2014, either for Congress or some other office.

Before Farris ran against Labrador last year, Idaho House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, counseled him to consider making a race for the Legislature. Shortly after his defeat Farris said he planned a rematch in 2014, but has since reconsidered challenging Labrador.

He said if Labrador decided not to seek a third term, he would consider the race.

“I would certainly take a look at the congressional seat if it came open,” Farris said. “But, quite frankly, the numbers are just bad in the district for a Democrat. I don’t know at this point if I would take the plunge again.”

Farris, 35, said he learned from the campaign that he wants to play a role as a lawmaker, either at the state or national level.

“It deepened my desire to have a seat at a table, ” Farris said. “I just really have that desire to be in a position where I can actually do something and have a say on things and not just have to have an opinion or post about it on Facebook or Twitter. I want to actually be in the mix.”

Rep. Rusche said he hasn’t spoken to Farris about 2014, but welcomed his interest in running again.  “It would be inappropriate to comment other than to say that Jim Ferris is an engaging campaigner, and appears to still be interested in public service,” Rusche said. “Good for him.”

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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