Aug 31 2007

The replacement roster

Published by at 9:12 pm under Idaho

Word flying around national news media, via unnamed sources, is that two things are about to happen. One is that, at 10:30 Saturday morning, at a press conference (which we do know has been called), Idaho Senator Larry Craig will resign. The other is that, sometime later but in the near future, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter will appoint Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch to the job.

Both may be right; not having heard from sources claiming to know, we can only speculate based on external criteria. Those external criteria indicate that (1) odds favor a Craig resignation (support among his normal alliances and networks having collapsed), and (2) a Risch appointment is a completely credible scenario, but not yet to any absolute point.

Jim Risch

Jim Risch

Speculation, at the national level anyway, has centered on Risch, and understandably. (Stopping right here and noting that the governor’s office explicitly says that no decision has been made.) He’s the one substantial Republican other than Craig (and we’re excluding from that candidate Rex Rammell, who would be running a splinter campaign) who has specifically expressed interest in running for the Senate in 2008, saying he likely would run for it if Craig did not. Risch has twice won statewide elective office (on top of a state Senate career spanning nearly 30 years) and last year won widespread applause for his seven-month run as governor of the state. (This site was among those extending kudos.)

His experience would allow him to jump in quickly. He hasn’t walked the congressional corridors, but short of having served there, he’d be solidly prepared. There would be few political problems. If Risch were running for the Senate as an incumbent next year, he likely would be hard to beat, either in the primary (and he’d probably clear the field of major challengers) or the general. (Democrats may not want to hear it, but they should remember that Risch has beaten Democrat Larry LaRocco twice in years past.)

There’s a little more: A Risch appointment would allow Otter to appoint a new lieutenant governor, maybe one closer to him. (State Senator Brad Little comes to mind as a prospect.)

(An online poll on the Spokesman-Review Huckleberries blog has Risch winning the vote on predicting who the next senator will be: Risch 47, Otter himself 14, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne 8, Representative Mike Simpson 6, Bill Sali 3.)

So a Risch appointment would come as no surprise. But there are counter-arguments. He and Risch aren’t especially close; Risch almost ran against him for governor last year. (They appear to have worked together capably enough, though.) He’s not the only possibility.

Otter in fact can appoint anyone, almost, he wants to. His only specific limitation is to an Idaho resident who meets the legal qualification (constitutional) for the job; and there’s a sort of political/ethical mandate that he appoint a Republican, as he surely will. So what other options would Otter have?

Here’s an abbreviated list of names we’ve seen and heard mentioned.

bullet Himself. Yeah, he could. Okay, he’s not gonna. But it’s been done before, and in Idaho: In 1945 Governor Charles Gossett had himself appointed to the Senate, and in the next election not only did he lose his Senate seat, but his replacement as governor lost his seat too. Won’t happen. But just sayin’.

bullet Representative Mike Simpson. In some ways, Simpson, as the senior House member, well regarded around the state, strong politically, might almost have a sort of “right of first refusal.” He has at times indicated interest in the Senate (and the governorship, too). He and Otter got on very well when they served together in the House earlier this decade. We’ve talked this week with Idaho Republicans convinced that Simpson will be the appointee, not on the basis of inside knowledge but because of the external points. (There’s enough interest to draw an attack on Simpson from Club for growth, which has backed the other Idaho House member, Bill Sali.) This appointment would trigger a special House election in the 2nd district, but we’re hard put to see why that would be a big problem. A Simpson appointment – if Simpson wants the job – very credibly could happen.

bullet Representative Bill Sali. Sali’s backers have been mounting a campaign of sorts to press for a Sali appointment; but we don’t see the argument for it. This one would fall into the category of a major surprise.

bullet Interior Secretary (former Governor) Dirk Kempthorne. Gotta include the name; but he’s already been there, done that, left after one term . . . why would he leave the cabinet to take it? Seems highly unlikely.

bullet Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Young, highly regarded (including from unusual and unexpected quarters), Wasden has like Risch been elected twice statewide. A longer shot, but there’s some logic to it, and his name has come up several times.

bullet State Senator Brad Little. He’s a close friend of Otter’s and also one of the best-regarded state legislators, across the political spectrum (which doesn’t mean he’s a soft Republican – he’s state Senate Republican caucus chairman). A Little appointment would mean the big-time launch of a major political career. This would be a dark horse choice which has a serious rationale behind it.

bullet Former Senator James McClure. The idea here would arise if Otter wanted the Republican party to determine the next senator, as happened the last time an Idaho governor – Republican Robert Smylie – made a Senate appointment, that of former Governor Len Jordan. (Several others also vigorously sought that appointment, in 1962.) From an email we received: Otter “can look really good by appointing Jim McClure as interim U.S. Senator. Not certain, [but] his past seniority might be worth something regarding committee assignments. He already knows all the players – and how to play the game. He is best qualified to be most effective for Idaho in the short term.” McClure, a very skilled senator over three terms, would be an interim appointment, till the next election – but he would do the job soundly in that time. And Republicans could then has out the options in the primary.

bullet E-mails are touting a bunch of prospects. (One we saw – and we have no information that it was authorized – promoted appointment of Boise activist Brandi Swindell.)

And an army of others.

Will it be Risch? Could be. But we’re hesitant to jump to conclusions until such time as Otter announces his.

Share on Facebook

Comments Off

Comments are closed at this time.

Share on Facebook



WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.



This will be one of the most talked-about Idaho books in Idaho this season: 14 years after its last edition, Ridenbaugh Press has released a list of 100 influential Idahoans. Randy Stapilus, the editor and publisher of the Idaho Weekly Briefing and author of four earlier similar lists, has based this one on levels of overall influence in the state – and freedom of action and ability to influence development of the state – as of the start of 2015.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015. By Randy Stapilus; published by Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 202 pages. Softcover. List price $16.95.
100 Influential Idahoans 2015 page.

100 Influential Idahoans 2015
"Essentially, I write in the margins of motherhood—and everything else—then I work these notes into a monthly column about what it’s like raising my two young boys. Are my columns funny? Are they serious? They don’t fit into any one box neatly. ... I’ve won awards for “best humorous column” though I actually write about subjects as light as bulimia, bullying, birthing plans and breastfeeding. But also bon-bons. And barf, and birthdays." Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons. by Nathalie Hardy; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 238 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
Raising the Hardy Boys page.



"Not a day passes that I don’t think about Vietnam. Sometimes its an aroma or just hearing the Vietnamese accent of a store clerk that triggers a memory. Unlike all too many soldiers, I never had to fire a weapon in anger. Return to civilian life was easy, but even after all these years away from the Army and Vietnam I find the experience – and knowledge – continue to shape my life daily."
Drafted! Vietnam in War and in Peace. by David R. Frazier; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton OR. 188 pgs. Softcover. $15.95.
The DRAFTED! page.


Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.

Oregon Governor Vic Atiyeh died on July 20, 2014; he was widely praised for steady leadership in difficult years. Writer Scott Jorgensen talks with Atiyeh and traces his background, and what others said about him.
Conversations with Atiyeh. by W. Scott Jorgensen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 140 pages. Softcover. $14.95.

"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.

Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.


by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at (softcover)



NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?


The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)


by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through (softcover)

without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.


How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.