We have been saying, consistently, for some time, that odds favor Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig seeking, as opposed to not seeking, re-election to the Senate next year. This afternoon, we're reversing that estimate. You might think that means something has changed; that something would be this, from the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call:
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.
Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.
A thorough report recounting exactly what the police report said is on the Roll Call site (which at times was so busy this afternoon we had some difficulty breaking in; most of it is alternatively available at the Talking Points Memo blog). (We might also add, for those unfamiliar with it, that Roll Call is not scandal sheet, but a solid mainstream reporter of activity at Congress. Its reports are solidly and broadly credible.)
You may recall that last fall, a speaker on a national radio program declared that Craig was gay. If you're in Idaho, you may know that the biggest local open secret of the months since has been that Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey worked for monthly researching that question, though no reports from that research have yet surfaced. (We're betting something will appear shortly, though.) The Statesman's web site does have a post under the line, "Report: U.S. Sen. Craig arrested in June for lewd conduct in men's room." Obviously, the story has gone national. The Atlantic Monthly comments, "Needless to say, there will be a lot more to this story."
What Craig pleaded guilty to, to be clear, was disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor), which can encompass a range of bad behavior. But his plea of guilty still runs up against the staff description of the incident as (in words that may be regretted already) a “he said/he said misunderstanding.” You might think that if Craig thought the incident really could be explained away as a misunderstanding, on a matter of this kind of sensitivity, that he would have it fought it.
Craig's office indicated it would have another statement out later in the day. When we see it, we'll note it here.
None of this precludes Craig from running again. We do think it will make it less likely.