MILITIA LEADER RUNNING FOR SENATOR
Militia Leader Known As The ‘Bundy Ranch Sniper’ Seeks A New Title: State Senator
The moderator was polite enough not to make it Question 1. But, oh, it was coming.
This face-off in Hailey, Idaho, wasn’t a typical debate night. Beforehand, incumbent state Sen. Michelle Stennett, a Democrat, had sought assurances for her safety, fearing riled-up supporters of her Republican opponent, Eric Parker. He, in turn, posted guards outside to avoid a ruckus like the one at a recent GOP picnic. That time, a heckler interrupted Parker’s speech to call him a domestic terrorist.
The precautions all go back to what Parker calls “the elephant in the room” in his bid for state office, namely that federal authorities consider him an anti-government extremist who belongs in prison. Instead, Parker beat felony charges twice, now leads one of the best-known militia groups in the mountain region, and is on the ballot in a rare purple district in bright-red Idaho.
That trajectory – and the alarm it’s raising in some Boise political circles – finally came up in Question 8, after property taxes and gun control: “Mr. Parker, in the past you’ve pled guilty to breaking the law at the 2015 showdown between the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundys’ ranch in Nevada.”
WAS ASKED IN A DEBATE ABOUT OBEYING LAWS
If elected, the moderator continued, would Parker uphold his oath to follow all laws, even if he disagreed with them?
Parker, in a navy suit with his long hair tied back, listened with a slight smirk, then started his answer with a correction: “It was 2014.”
Six years ago, during the armed standoff in Bunkerville, Nev., Parker, then a 30-year-old electrician, stood on a bridge along with other right-wing supporters of the local Bundy family’s fight with the government over grazing rights. Below, in a dry riverbed, heavily armed authorities watched the demonstrators. As tensions rose, Parker dropped to his belly, stuck his rifle through a gap in a concrete barrier and leveled his weapon at the officers.