Idaho U.S. Senate Candidate Nels Mitchell Charges Onto The Field

Nells Mitchell

Nels Mitchell came out strong in his campaign to become Idaho’s next United States Senator. At least, two important factors favor Mr. Mitchell: 1) James Risch has done virtually nothing in the past five years to help Idaho and 2) Mitchell is a tremendously well-qualified, hard-working, articulate person who will put Idaho families and businesses first.

Mitchell (Check out his Nels Mitchell for United States Senate website and like him on Facebook) made his announcement Monday before a crowd of supporters gathered at the Boise Train Depot. Since then, he has traveled to Twin Falls and sent out two press releases blasting Risch for his very bad case of Potomac Fever.

Here’s some coverage of Mitchell’s announcement in the Idaho Statesman:
Nels Mitchell vows to beat ‘career politician’ Idaho Sen. Risch

Posted on January 14, 2014 by Dan Popkey

Democrat Nels Mitchell blamed Republican Sen. Jim Risch for Idaho’s low-wage economy and said that after 37 years in elected office he puts perks ahead of the interests of Idaho.

“I run to replace a career politician with a citizen legislator,” said Mitchell, a first-time candidate who announced his campaign at the Boise Depot Tuesday. “I run to help restore the vision of our founding fathers. Jim Risch has lost touch with the concept of public service, and, more importantly, with the people of Idaho. It is time for him to retire.”

Mitchell, 60, said he would serve a single six-year term if elected. “I will be beholden to no one but the people of Idaho,” he said.

Mitchell faulted Risch for Idaho’s ranking highest in the country for the proportion of minimum-wage workers and ranking 50th in income. “Someone has not been minding the store and that someone is Jim Risch,” he said.

And Randy Stapilus recently wrote:

An echo came in May 2013 when (Risch) told the Idaho Statesman, “You know, I really enjoy this job. I really like this job. Governor will wear you down. You can’t do that job permanently. This you can do ad infinitum.” An accompanying news article described him as “remarkably passive about the failure of Congress to deal with the country’s problems,” and “to hear him wax eloquent about life in the Senate makes one wonder if he risks being branded as a dilettante.”

Repeated news articles about his and his staff’s regular trips abroad (he is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, so in his personal case there’s actually some call for them) and some talk that he’s not been spending a lot of time in Idaho or with his base, could be a basis for reviving some of those old critiques, on a larger scale.

Mitchell has a cool demeanor (though he’s been a federal litigator, which suggests something about what’s beneath that) and the positioning of an outsider, and he’s offered a promise to serve but one term. What appeal may that have?

There are politicians who develop a teflon surface, and those who don’t. The second kind can survive too. But put the wrong set of circumstances together, and surprises can happen.

Who is Nels Mitchell?

Nels Mitchell is a Westerner through and through. He was born in Seattle and raised in Idaho. His parents moved to Boise in 1968. Nels and his two brothers attended Boise public schools and all three graduated from Boise High School. At Boise High, Nels was Student Body President and a member of the Debate Team – the same path his boyhood hero, Sen. Frank Church, had followed nearly 30 years before.

Nels MitchellThe Mitchells were outdoor people. Nels and his family fished and hunted in Idaho’s backcountry, and Nels was on the Ski Team at Boise High. He still loves to hunt, fish and ski, though he proudly admits that his older daughter, Brianne, is now the real fly-caster of the family.

There was a lot of love but not a lot of extras in the Mitchell household, and everyone had to earn their own way. The young Nels had a series of classic Idaho jobs: moving irrigation pipe, delivering papers for the Statesman, clearing rocks at Bogus Basin, thinning lodge pole pine in the Stanley Basin, washing dishes at the Elk’s Hospital and mowing lawns in Ann Morrison Park. Later, in college and law school, he spent three summers as the caretaker of the Garden Valley Airport and on the crew that maintained small airports around the state.

Academic Excellence

After Boise High, Nels was offered an achievement scholarship to Columbia University, long a magnet for high-achieving Idaho students. At Columbia, he served as class vice president, earned two varsity athletic letters, and graduated in three years so he could come home to Idaho. He won a scholarship to the University of Idaho Law School, and was delighted that he could be there at the same time as his two brothers, Mike and Rob.

A Distinguished Career

Nels has been a practicing attorney for more than 30 years, in both the public and private sectors. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge J. Blaine Anderson, who was nominated to the federal bench by Sen. Len Jordan and Sen. James McClure. He then practiced law in both large and small law firms, where he felt first-hand the pressures faced by all business owners and employers trying to meet a payroll and turn a profit. No matter what the case, Nels’ touchstone was fairness and his goal was to help his clients reach common-sense solutions to the problems facing them.

After a successful career in private practice, Nels wanted to use his legal background and training to benefit the larger community. He looked for – and found – a position where he could apply his experience to further his ideal of fairness and help secure a level playing field for everyone. As an Associate Regional Director and Regional Trial Counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nels managed a staff of 75 employees investigating and prosecuting financial fraud in the western states.

Nels served six years on the University of Idaho Law School Advisory Council, and has been a part- time teacher at the University of Idaho Law School for ten years. He has also served on committees for Columbia University, the American Bar Association and the U.S. State Department.

The Mitchell Family

The Mitchell FamilyNels has two grown daughters: Brianne is a practicing attorney; Brittany is a second-year law student. The girls grew up with sports. Nels volunteered as their soccer coach when they were teenagers, and Nels taught both daughters to fish.

Nels has hunted, fished, skied and hiked his whole life, and he and his wife, Mary Kimmel, have a deep love for Idaho’s outdoors. Nels and Mary live in West Boise, with two rescue dogs, another adopted dog, a Quarter Horse and a cat.

Nels remains extremely close to his two brothers and his 91-year-old mother, who still lives in Boise. He has established a scholarship at Boise High in memory of his father and in honor of his mother.

Nels credits his parents and his grandparents with instilling the values of hard work and close family ties, and with teaching him to always stand on the side of fairness and justice.