Longtime Boise attorney replaces Democratic candidate for Idaho attorney general

Former attorney general and chief justice Jim Jones will serve as campaign treasurer for Tom Arkoosh

By: - July 26, 2022 12:52 pm
Tom Arkoosh standing at a podium

Boise attorney Tom Arkoosh announces his candidacy as the Democratic nominee for Idaho attorney general. He will face Republican nominee Raúl Labrador in the general election on Nov. 8. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

Boise attorney Tom Arkoosh announced Tuesday morning he is the new Democratic nominee for Idaho attorney general, following Steve Scanlin’s withdrawal from the race on July 18 citing personal reasons.

According to Idaho Code, the state central committee of a candidate’s corresponding party can fill vacancies for candidates for state office as long as it is more than 10 days before a primary or general election.

Arkoosh will run against former Congressman Raúl Labrador, who defeated Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for another term in the office. Arkoosh is a partner at Arkoosh Law Offices and has practiced law for 44 years, including civil, commercial, criminal, natural resources and water resource law. He worked extensively on litigation surrounding the Snake River Basin Adjudication.

Arkoosh made his candidacy announcement at the Idaho Capitol after an introduction from the appointed treasurer of his campaign, Jim Jones. Jones is a former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and former Republican state attorney general.

“I am not a politician. I grew up on a family farm in Gooding,” Arkoosh said in his remarks. “I am a counselor, litigator and lawyer. … I took on this challenge because I believe the people of the state of Idaho deserve a choice about who their lawyer should be.”

Jones said he asked Arkoosh for his endorsement when he ran for Idaho attorney general in the 1980s. Arkoosh was the Gem County prosecutor at the time. When Jones served on the Idaho Supreme Court between 2005 and 2017, he said Arkoosh argued cases before the court several times and handled himself well.

“You can get a real feel for a person (through those arguments) and how they present themselves, you know, how they think,” Jones said. “I think he’ll do a really fine job.”

Jones said he is concerned about the future of the attorney general’s office if Labrador is victorious in the general election, because he said it has a long tradition of representing both parties based on sound legal advice regardless of the political forces at play.

Jim Jones and Tom Arkoosh shaking hands
Former Idaho Attorney General Jim Jones, left, shakes hands with Boise attorney Tom Arkoosh at his campaign announcement for Idaho attorney general at the Idaho State Capitol on Tuesday. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

Attorney general candidate had not affiliated with a party until this year

Arkoosh told the Idaho Press he has long been an independent who did not affiliate with any party, but he registered as a Republican to vote in the May Republican primary, then affiliated as a Democrat to run for the office.

Arkoosh said the Democratic Party asked him to run, but one of the reasons he accepted was Labrador’s support of the “Big Lie” that there was election fraud in the 2020 presidential election. Labrador has expressed support for a lawsuit led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton against several states in an attempt to nullify the election results. During the primary election debate on Idaho Public Television, Labrador said Wasden should have joined the lawsuit, which the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a few days after it was filed. Labrador said it was thrown out because of a lack of standing, and that three justices did find standing in the case, according to the Post Register. 

On Jan. 6, 2021, — the day the U.S. Capitol was attacked by supporters of former President Donald Trump Labrador sent a text to then White House chief-of-staff Mark Meadows to say he would have likely joined other congressmen to object to the certification of the election, CNN reported.

Idaho Attorney General candidate Raúl Labrador
Idaho Attorney General candidate Raúl Labrador speaks to people during the Idaho Republican Party primary celebration on May 17, 2022. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

“My friend – I weep for our country today,” Labrador wrote to Meadows, in part, at 3:57 p.m. Jan. 6. “Somebody needs to come out and calm this down. I believed in Trump and I would probably object to the certification today.”

Labrador also said during the debate with Wasden that he would be a more aggressive attorney general.

“The people of Idaho deserve a person of integrity who is aggressive in the actions that they take against the federal government and against big government overreach,” Labrador said at the debate.

Arkoosh said he doesn’t think that’s how the attorney general’s office should run.

“This office has a long tradition, and I’m aware of it because I’ve practiced here for 40 years, of having an even-handed, good lawyer running the office, and I think Raúl is going to propound Raúl’s issues, and not the issues that concern the people in the state of Idaho,” Arkoosh told the Capital Sun.

Labrador’s campaign advisor, Brent Littlefield, sent a statement by email responding to the comments.

“There is nothing more political than this backroom deal cut by the Idaho Democratic Party with Mr. Arkoosh, who has literally flip-flopped between parties in the course of a year,” the statement said. “As Idaho’s next attorney general, Raúl Labrador will work to protect Idaho’s families, safeguard the state’s economy, and defend constitutional freedoms.”

‘This campaign is a job interview,’ Idaho attorney general candidate says

Arkoosh acknowledged the general election is only a few months away, on Nov. 8, and he has next to no name recognition compared to Labrador, which could make his race an uphill battle. But he said it will be up to voters to decide who is best for the job if he has the opportunity to show them his depth of experience.

“This campaign is a job interview. I need sufficient resources to be present in the interview. If those people who know me will send me to the interview, we have a chance, because I’m not afraid of the interview,” he said.

Arkoosh holds a bachelor’s degree in government and economics from Harvard University and received his law degree from the University of Idaho. He lives in Boise with his wife, Linda, and has three children.

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.

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