C. Ben Ross
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C. Ben Ross

C. Ben Ross
C. Ben Ross (Idaho Governor).jpg
15th Governor of Idaho

January 5, 1931 - January 4, 1937
LieutenantG. P. Mix
George E. Hill
G. P. Mix
H. C. Baldridge
Barzilla W. Clark
Personal details
Charles Benjamin Ross

(1876-12-27)December 27, 1876
Parma, Idaho Territory
DiedMarch 31, 1946(1946-03-31) (aged 69)
Boise, Idaho
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Edna May Reavis

Charles Benjamin Ross (December 27, 1876 - March 31, 1946) was an American politician who served as the first Idaho-born Governor of Idaho from 1931 until 1937.

Early life and education

One of eight children, Ross was born to cattleman, John M. Ross, and his wife, Jeanette, near Parma, Idaho. He left school after sixth grade, but at age eighteen, he decided to continue his education and graduated from Portland Commercial College.[1] In 1897 ,he returned to the family ranch and co-managed it with his brother, W. H. Ross.


Ross began his political career in Canyon County, serving as county commissioner from 1915 to 1921. He moved to Bannock County and served as mayor of Pocatello from 1922 to 1930. He won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 1928. Although he nearly tripled the Democratic vote total of his predecessor, Asher B. Wilson, thanks to the recent demise of the Idaho Progressive Party, he was defeated by the Republican incumbent H. C. Baldridge.

Ross won the nomination again in 1930, winning the open seat against Republican John McMurray. His wife, Edna, was a natural politician and a great asset to Ross. She was often referred to as "Governor Edna" while he held that office.[2] He was reelected in 1932 and 1934, becoming the first person to win election as Governor of Idaho three times. During his tenure as governor Ross was viewed as the chief proponent of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies in Idaho. Even so, his own beliefs more closely mirrored the agrarian populism of earlier Democrats such as William Jennings Bryan.[3]

The first sales tax in Idaho was enacted in 1935 with Ross' support. A famous line used against Ross by sales tax opponents was "A Penny for Benny." A driver's license law was instituted and legislation was initiated which would make liquor sales regulated through state distributors.[1] Ross ran for United States Senate in 1936 but was defeated by longtime Republican incumbent William E. Borah. Opponents also used the following poem against him: "Benny got our penny/Benny got our goat/We'll get our Benny/When we go to vote." The sales tax was repealed after a statewide referendum in 1936.

In 1938, Ross ran for governor a fifth time, defeating incumbent Barzilla W. Clark in the Democratic primary but losing to state Republican Party chairman C. A. Bottolfsen in the general election. After losing the 1938 gubernatorial election, "Cowboy Ben" retired from public life. He is referred to as "Founding Father" of the Idaho Farm Bureau Federation and was looked to as a champion of the Idaho Democratic Party.

Personal life

He married Edna Reavis on February 14, 1900, and together they raised four foster children.[4]

Ross died on March 31, 1946, and is interred at Parma Cemetery, Parma, Canyon County, Idaho US.


  1. ^ a b "C. Ben Ross". National Governors Association. Retrieved 2012.
  2. ^ "C. Ben Ross". University of Idaho Library. Retrieved 2012.
  3. ^ Book of the Week Club: "C. Ben Ross and the New Deal in Idaho" Archived July 19, 2012, at Archive.today
  4. ^ "C. Ben Ross". University of Idaho. Retrieved 2012.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Asher B. Wilson
Democratic Party nominee, Governor of Idaho
1928, 1930, 1932, 1934
Succeeded by
Barzilla W. Clark
Preceded by
Joseph M. Tyler
Democratic Party nominee, U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Idaho
Succeeded by
Glen H. Taylor
Preceded by
Barzilla W. Clark
Democratic Party nominee, Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Chase A. Clark
Political offices
Preceded by
H. C. Baldridge
Governor of Idaho
January 5, 1931 – January 4, 1937
Succeeded by
Barzilla W. Clark

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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