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Unitarian Universalist elected to U.S. House

Walt Minnick of Idaho joins two fellow Unitarian Universalists in Congress.
By Donald E. Skinner

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UU Walt Minnick

UU Walt Minnick at a town hall meeting during his successful compaign for an Idaho congressional seat. (Courtesy of waltforcongress.org)

Walt Minnick, a longtime member of the Boise, Idaho Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, was elected on November 4 to the U.S. House of Representatives in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District. He will be the first Democrat to represent Idaho in Congress since 1995.

Minnick becomes the third Unitarian Universalist in Congress. The others are Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND).*

Issues Minnick hopes to focus on include education, the environment, and the health of small businesses.

Minnick defeated Republican Bill Sali, who becomes the first Idaho congressman to fail to win a second term in 56 years. Minnick ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 1996 but was defeated by the incumbent, Republican Larry Craig. Minnick is the chairman and CEO of SummerWinds Garden Centers in Boise, the 10th largest independent garden center company in the United States. For 21 years he was an executive in the Idaho forest products industry.

Minnick served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and later served in the Nixon administration.* He was deputy assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget and was instrumental in the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), according to his campaign biography.

He and his wife, A.K. Leinhart-Minnick, a former chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, have four children. He is cofounder and board member of the Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence, a group of Idaho business leaders working to improve education in the state. He has lived in Idaho since 1974.

Correction 12.3.08: As originally published, this story erroneously reported that Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is also a Unitarian Universalist. He is a Roman Catholic. Click here to return to the corrected paragraph.

Correction 11.11.10: As originally published, this story said that Minnick had “served a tour of duty in Vietnam.” That statement was based on information supplied by Minnick’s campaign, but it was challenged during his 2010 reelection campaign. Minnick did not serve a tour in Vietnam, although he visited the country several times as a Pentagon analyst during the war. Minnick told UU World on Nov. 11, 2010, that a campaign staffer erroneously used language in campaign materials in 2008 that may have made it appear he had served a tour in Vietnam. Click here to return to the corrected paragraph.

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