Idaho Primary: Wildlife foe Lenore Barrett finally bites the dust

Rangeland steward of the year takes out Barrett in Republican primary-

Political analysis and opinion. By Ralph Maughan

Any Idahoan concerned about wildlife, grazing, mining, or just a state representative who listens, will bolt upright when they learn the Idaho State Representative Lenore Barrett of Challis has, after years, bitten the political dust. Although she posed as a native Idahoan, Barrett originated and got her college education in Oklahoma.

Running from a strong Republican district, for years Barrett won by facing Democrats or independents. Finally, however, she faced another Republican and was drubbed. She lost big time to challenger Merrill Beyeler, a newcomer.  Beyeler was recognized as the 2013 BLM rangeland steward of the year. Beyeler is as good as elected, although the general election is in November.

She was often described as “colorful.”  That is quite a euphemism. During my career as a professor of political science, Barrett launched several attempts to get me fired because I did not hold to her extreme, anti-wildlife, land-grabbing views. After that I discussed her in my own colorful way.

Also defeated was 12-year incumbent State Senator Monty Pearce. Senator Pearce (District 9-R) chaired the Senate Resource and Environment Committee. In that position few conservation oriented bills ever saw the light of day. He was another land-grabber, a leader in the attempt to take the U.S. public lands for the state. He had argued that Idaho would gain perhaps $75-million a year under “more efficient” state management of logging.  He lost to challenger Abby Lee. Pearce was an important state level operative in the anti-conservation right.






  1. Theo Chu Avatar
    Theo Chu

    Maybe I’ll move back! Naw, not yet. (But this is good news and hopefully the start of a trend.)

    1. Salle Avatar

      Hahaha, Theo! I had the same initial thought, sort of… but like you, on second thought, nah, not yet.

      I agree that it’s good news.

      1. Theo Chu Avatar
        Theo Chu

        Sadly as I understand it, she lost at least in part because she wasn’t anti-wolf enough.

        1. Salle Avatar

          Sadly, I’m sure you’re right. Part of her district borders the one I’m in… in a different state. There is another Barrett in my state which abuts the Idaho district that is just as bad, and I suspect they are related.

          Would be nice if those who actually vote had more sense than they appear to possess.

          1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
            Ralph Maughan


            Is that Debbie Barrett? ANyway I don’t think they are related. Lenore came from Oklahoma. The Wikipedia says “Barrett graduated from Ponca City High School, Oklahoma, and earned her Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1956..”

            1. Elk375 Avatar

              The one Salle is talking about is Debbie Barrett from Dillon, Montana.

            2. Ken Cole Avatar

              Rocky wrote about a flyer that went around claiming Lenore was soft on wolves. He used the word “charming” to describe her. Not the word I would have chosen.


              1. Ida Lupines Avatar
                Ida Lupines

                Lenore voted twice against Legislation that would help us combat our wolf problem.”

                It goes on to say Barrett voted twice against legislation to combat the problem. That part is true. Barrett, one of the tightest lawmakers in the Capitol, voted against setting up the Idaho Wolf Control Board to spend taxpayer dollars to kill wolves.

                “We have created enough boards in this body to build an ark,” she said at a committee hearing in February.

                The flier was sponsored by the Idaho Prosperity Fund, the political action committee of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Barrett’s Republican opponents are Merrill Beyeler of Leadore and Brent Adamson of Idaho City.

                To those of us who have known Barrett for years the only thing she hates more than wolves is raising taxes. She insisted that when Idaho approved its wolf plan in 2001, it include the demand: “that wolf recovery efforts in Idaho be discontinued immediately, and wolves be removed by whatever means necessary.”

                Reading this, you’d think you were back in the 1800s!

  2. jon Avatar

    Good riddance.

  3. DLB Avatar

    Ralph, I bet you typed this one up with a smile!

  4. skyrim Avatar

    Good for you Ralph and good for Idaho (kinda sorta)……

  5. Salle Avatar

    Well, that’s two bad actors down and the rest to go.

    I will always remember Lenore at public hearing/comment events as the mean, old woman who would stand in the isle leading to the microphone where public comments were given. She would stand out and give everyone whose views differed from hers the “stink eye” and stand just sort of in your way so she was impossible to avoid with a threatening scowl as though she might push you or hit you as you passed by her on your way to the microphone.

    Among other grievances…

    Good riddance indeed.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I remember her doing that at the Targhee road closure hearing. She’s big, a bully. All those people are gone now: Helen Chenowith, Larry Craig, now Barrett and those roads are closed too!

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        The post about Barrett and Targhee road closure was from me, Jackie Maughan, posting on R’s Kindle. She did try to get Ralph fired as did Rep. Joann Wood.

  6. R Harold Smoot Avatar
    R Harold Smoot

    That’s a good start, but Idaho has a ways to go. What’s not reported here is that the Governor squeaked by a victory losing in his own district and two other major ones in the state. His ‘victory’ was dubbed an ’embarrassment’ by a Political Science professor and the word on the street is that he may have to move even FURTHER to the right to appease those voters who chose his opponent this last round.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I agree that Otter looked weak in his victory over tea party Fulcher. Because the people who will vote in the general election are not on the average as far right as in the Republican primary, Otter moving further to the right would spell good news for his Democratic opponent A.J. Balukoff.

    2. timz Avatar

      Any dream of a democrat beating Otter are just that, a dream. Sadly, he wins in the fall by double-digits.

      1. Eric T. Avatar
        Eric T.

        Balukoff has a puncher’s chance if certain things happen such as R’s not voting at all and the unaffiliated (Independent) voters select Balukoff. Frankly Balukoff may have been better off running as an Independent.

        An Otter win would probably be like his 2006 win against Brady, by 7-8%, maybe a bit closer.

      2. jon Avatar

        timz or ralph, is it true Monty Pearce lost his seat? If so, good news. Another wolf hater thrown out of offie in Idaho.

        1. timz Avatar

          yes he lost and lost big 58%-42%

        2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          Pearce was defeated in the Republican primary!

        3. timz Avatar

          Glad to see them both go but not getting all that giddy about their replacements, they are wolf haters as well.

  7. timz Avatar

    I had to hold my nose and register as a republican this
    election, everyone that was running for local office was running as an R because “nobody votes for Democrats”. That gave me the privilege of voting for Lenore’s opponent
    which made it all worthwhile.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      A lot of Democrats I knew registered Republican. There were few contests among the Democrats, so why not?

      1. JB Avatar

        I agree with Ralph’s assessment. Most of my progressive Utah friends registered as Republicans for the same reason. Utah might be the only place ‘more Republican’ than Idaho. Frankly, I wish the states would get rid of party primaries. Several years ago, I was quite happy to help John McCain defeat G.W. Bush in the Michigan primary–which was open to all voters. Two changes that would dramatically improve our government would be open primaries and getting rid of party gerrymandering of districts.

        1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
          Ralph Maughan

          JB is right. Tee adoption of a closed primary election was a great boost for right wing extremists because they only have to win a majority (or often just a plurality) in their party rather than the entire electorate to take office in a one party state.

        2. Louise Kane Avatar
          Louise Kane

          Two changes that would dramatically improve our government would be open primaries and getting rid of party gerrymandering of districts.
          interesting how gerrymandering has survived even as it widely recognized as an impediment to fair democratic elections.

  8. Gary Humbard Avatar
    Gary Humbard

    Although politicians can create wolf control boards and attempt to take control of federal lands, it seems to me that federal laws such as the ESA and advocacy groups such as conservation organizations and cattle producers have more influence regarding land management.

    Although it took 20 years from the start of the process to when wolves were returned to Yellowstone and central Idaho, their successful return occured because they were listed by the ESA and due to significant pressure from conservation organizations. Only one local politician (Senator McClure) from Idaho was willing to work for their return, but conservation groups like Defenders, National Wildlife Federation and National Audobon Society continued to provide scientific evidence that wolves belonged in these places. They also made sure the American public was supporting their return.

    If we use the science and laws available to use and are willing to outvote, outspend, outshout and outnumber the opposition, we will not fail, no matter who is in office.

    1. Immer Treue Avatar
      Immer Treue

      My take on McClure was he knew wolves were already on the way down from Canada, and more than likely would have garnered full ESA protection, so cut a deal…

      1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
        Ralph Maughan

        Immer Treue,


        The first book about the reintroduction of wolves (Wolf Wars by Hank Fischer, 1995) described in detail how Senator McClure was motivated by worry about a natural recolonization of Idaho and the West by wolves and so he pushed for the “experimental reintroduction” to forestall the severe regulations under a full ESA “endangered” status.

        Wolves were clearly on the way from B.C. and Alberta because MW Montana already had about 80 of them from, or derived from Canada at the time of reintroduction.

  9. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Just a big scoop , invert, and dump of the Idaho Republican barn compost shovel.

    It’s still just working over a big pile of manure …


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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