Sep 25 2007

Craig in review: Next up

Published by at 9:22 pm under Idaho

On Wednesday, Idaho Senator Larry Craig’s disorderly conduct case returns to a Minnesota courtroom; there, he is attempting to withdraw his plea of guilty, and service of his sentence, on the charge. Within a few days, the Northwest’s senior senator (and its second most senior member of Congress) may – or may not – resign from the Senate. This the last of four essays considering the case, its causes and its effects.

Larry Craig

Larry Craig

Senator Larry Craig has said he probably will resign after a court hearing on September 26, Wednesday, but by September 30, which is next Sunday; if he does what he and his spokesmen have said is probable, then you could imagine a formal announcement coming on Thursday or Friday, with resignation to take effect two days later. Shortly thereafter, within two or three days we imagine, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter would appoint a replacement. (On Friday, maybe, if Craig announced on Thursday; but probably on a weekday, and we’d guess not on the same day.)

There’s been no end of talk in Boise about who Otter might appoint, and a very long list of possibles – somewhere around 30 names, the last time we counted – has been released. The focus has been on Lieutenant Governor Jim Risch, who is broadly considered the single most likely prospect. When conversation moves (as it often does) to, “Well, what if it’s not Risch?”, then the name of Attorney General Lawrence Wasden tends to arise. And then, after that, a broader list.

We’ll get to some of that in this post. Before we do, we thought we’d discuss for a bit a question hardly posed at all in any public venue: What qualities or qualifications should the next senator from Idaho have?

Should be, in a realistic sense, a replacement for Craig. The voters of Idaho chose Craig (last, in 2002), and their choice – in what they thought they were getting – logically ought to be honored. That’s probably a pretty easy one for Otter to deal with; as a conservative Republican, Craig was in line with most of the governing structure and the front bench of Idaho politics. Most Idaho statewide officials and legislators could fit the mold. If Risch or Wasden or any of most of the others on the long list were chosen, nearly all would position themselves not far from where Craig has. This criterion doesn’t much help narrow the list.

Second, should be someone who could get up to speed quickly and energetically. The fastest might be someone who currently or previously has served in Congress, but none of those names are on the publicly-released list, and the one seemingly most logical, Representative Mike Simpson, has taken himself out of consideration. Among the others, several may have the ability to do that. But the edge on this may go to Risch, who last year demonstrated for the state his quick and effective assumption of the governor’s office, running it effectively for a short stretch. (Many, really a majority, of the long list of prospects would have such a steep learning curve they couldn’t meet this standard, even for those who probably could learn well enough on the job. Maybe a half-dozen of the group could conclusively do so.)

Third, should be someone who can bring some stability to the office even during such a transitional period. That’s a tough job, and who might best handle that is unclear.

From a public standpoint, there’s no obligation on Otter to fulfill any partisan preferences; but from a standpoint of political ethics – you dance with those who bring you – there’s some call to not damage Republican prospects by his choice. Street word in Boise is that Risch, who has expressed interest in the Senate if Craig is out, may run for the seat in 2008 even if someone else is appointed, and that Otter is well aware of that prospect. That could be a factor. (It could cut in either direction.) So might the idea that a younger appointee (such as but not limited to Wasden) might get a head start on substantial seniority in the Senate. (Though we think that ought to be a lesser factor. The added year-plus of seniority the appointment would bring likely wouldn’t make much long-range difference in terms of Senate clout.)

Who might it be?

The consensus view in Idaho runs about like so: The single most probable choice is Risch, partly because of his depth of background in Idaho government and politics, his track record from last year as governor, his energy (he’d hit the ground running), the probability that he could easily retain the Senate seat for Republicans next year, and the opening of a lieutenant governor appointment for Otter. If that didn’t happen, talk goes, Wasden would be the second-most-likely choice. And the selection of someone from outside the announced list (such as, if he proves interested, Senator Brad Little), shouldn’t be eliminated from consideration.

The consensus view is reasonable; as a matter of probabilities at least, it makes senses. But it does come down to possibilities and probabilities. Otter’s options are much broader. And it doesn’t consider what we don’t yet know: What factors will be the most decisive as Otter moves toward his selection.

But if Craig out sometime, say, later this week, we’ll know before long.

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.