REXBURG – Idaho State House District 34 Representative Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, plans to run for the Idaho Senate this fall.
He opted to do so on Thursday after Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, announced he wouldn’t run again in November. Hill explained it was time for someone else to serve.
Ricks’ announcement was followed on Monday, by his former opponent Ron Nate’s own declaration that he will run for a seat in the house.
Nate served as the District 34 Representative starting in 2014 after winning the election against then incumbent Douglas Hancey. Nate later successfully defended a challenge by Ricks in the 2016 elections. Ricks ran again in 2018, and this time defeated incumbent Nate.
“Our district knows my legislative legacy of improving education, strengthening Idaho’s economy, defending fiscal responsibility, protecting freedom, and promoting strong family values,” Nate said in a press release. “The values of District 34 are exactly what Idaho needs, and I am eager to continue my strong record of sponsoring and supporting policies which are Constitutional, economically feasible, and morally sound.”
Nate says that he wants to continue his work in restoring gun rights and to work on the Ultrasound Information Act that he sponsored while in the House of Representatives. He currently works as an economics professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho and has done so since 2001.
As for Ricks, he is the first person to announce plans to run for Hill’s Senate seat. By doing so, he is following in his late father, Mark Rick’s, footsteps.
“My father served in the Senate some years ago,” he said.
The elder Ricks served in the Senate from 1979 to 1994. He was also appointed to serve as Idaho State Lt. Governor for six months.
“He left a great legacy of service,” Doug Ricks said.
Ricks is married to Melissa Ricks, and the couple are the parents of five children and grandparents of four. When he’s not serving in the House of Representatives, Ricks works at BYU-Idaho in the university’s disability services office.
The computer technology he deals with helps those with various challenges to continue their studies, Ricks said.
“I work with assistive technology for people with disabilities,” he said. “If they’re blind, dyslexic or hard of hearing, I (can) help.”
Prior to serving as a representative, Ricks volunteered with the Madison County Republicans where he served as the organization’s chairman and also as a precinct chairman.
Growing concerns over how residents were being represented, motivated Ricks to run for the Idaho State House of Representatives in 2018.
“I was trying to get a few others to run, but those kind of fizzled out,” he said. “It was ‘now or never,’ and I jumped in to do it.”
Ricks currently serves on the Idaho House Transportation Committee and the Idaho House Judiciary Rules Committee. He wants to continue with similar committees, should he be elected to the Senate.
A Rexburg native, Ricks graduated from Madison High School in 1979. He later attended the former Ricks College where he earned a degree in Farm Crops Management in 1984. Ricks returned to Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2004 and earned a bachelor’s degree in General Studies.
Ricks is also a descendant of Rexburg’s founder Thomas Ricks, who also founded BYU-Idaho − formerly known as Ricks College. Doug Ricks joked he’d probably win the upcoming election if all his cousins voted for him.
Ricks says that he’s received positive feedback concerning his plans to run for Hill’s Senate Seat. Ricks will file for candidacy by March 13.
Should he be elected, Ricks says he wants to make sure that area youth receive the education they need and deserve. He’s also pushing for continued economic development and prosperity in Idaho.
“I know the state’s doing good as a whole. I’ll continue supporting things to boost the economics on our side of the state,” he said.
Both Ricks and Nate will run during the May primaries that are followed by the November general election.
Editor's Note: When this article was printed Ron Nate had not decided yet on which seat he would pursue within District 34. As of Feb. 26 he formally announced that he would be running for seat 34B, currently held by Rep. Britt Raybould.