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Former congresswoman dies in Nevada
By Brendan Riley October 2, 2006 AP

Carson City, Nevada - Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a conservative firebrand who served three terms as an Idaho congresswoman, was killed Monday when thrown from a car that overturned on an isolated central Nevada highway. 6

Helen Chenoweth
Former US Representative Helen Chenoweth

A daughter, Meg Chenoweth Keenan, said her mother was a passenger in the SUV-type vehicle that flipped just before noon Monday on State Route 376, the main route between her Pine Creek Ranch, in Monitor Valley, and Tonopah.

The Nevada Highway Patrol said Chenoweth-Hage, 68, was pronounced dead at the scene. Though other family members were in the car -- including the driver, daughter-in-law Yelena Hage, 24, and 5-month-old grandson-in-law Bryan Hage -- no one else was seriously injured.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Gonzalez said Chenoweth-Hage was holding the baby and wasn't wearing a seatbelt. He added both Chenoweth-Hage and the baby were thrown from the car but the child "miraculously" had only minor injuries.

Gonzalez said the SUV, traveling toward Tonopah, drifted off the road to the right, swerved back to the left and then flipped as the driver overcorrected in steering to the right in efforts to stay on the road.

Chenoweth-Hage was killed four months after the death of her husband, Nevada rancher Wayne Hage, who battled the federal government for decades over public lands and private property rights and came to epitomize the Sagebrush Rebellion in the West. Hage had been ill and died in his sleep at age 69.

A Republican, Chenoweth-Hage was elected to Congress from Idaho in 1994 and served three two-year terms. The outspoken advocate of smaller government and property rights chose not to run in 2000.

U.S. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who replaced Chenoweth, said he only ran in 2000 because she opted to retire.

"What a tragedy," Otter said. "Helen was a person, whether in her private life or in her public service, was dedicated to principles of limited government. In every sense of her being, she fought for the maximum individual liberty -- and the minimum in government."

"Helen was the most amazing, gracious person I ever had the privilege to know," her daughter said in a prepared statement. "She was fearless in life, and I know she welcomes the opportunity to be in the presence of God her father.

Born in Topeka, Kansas, Chenoweth-Hage grew up in Grants Pass, Oregon, and attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, before moving to the northern Idaho timber town of Orofino, where she worked at Northside Medical Center.

She became a well-known political name in the state when she moved to Boise in the 1970s, serving as the executive director of the Idaho Republican Party and becoming U.S. Rep. Steven Symms' chief of staff.

She ran for Congress against incumbent Democrat Larry LaRocco and gained national attention when she held "endangered salmon bakes," serving canned salmon and ridiculing the listing of Idaho salmon as an endangered species during fundraisers.

Chenoweth-Hage also said that salmon aren't endangered but white males are, complained about black government helicopters harassing ranchers, said minorities didn't like northern Idaho because it is too cold and called for disarming federal resource enforcement agents.

She also said she suffered from unjustified media criticism because she was a woman and because she stood firmly for western rights, independence and sovereignty.

During her congressional career, Chenoweth-Hage was a victim of a "salmon pie" attack while at a field hearing on forest health in Missoula, Montana. Randall Mark of Moscow, Idaho hit her in the head with a "pie" made of rotten canned salmon, forcing the meeting to adjourn for an hour while she cleaned salmon flakes from her hair and jacket.

After the attack, the congresswoman joked, "I would like to say that I find it amusing that they used salmon. I guess salmon must not be endangered anymore." The stunt landed Mark in jail for more than two months. He also got a year of probation.

She married Hage in 1999 in Meridian, Idaho, at a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 guests. In 2000, Chenoweth-Hage considered a possible bid for Idaho's lieutenant governor's post, but then opted to work for a private property advocacy group in Boise.

 More on Wayne Hage go HERE.

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