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Names for lieutenant

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter‘s office has released a large batch of names under consideration for appointment to lieutenant governor, the office Jim Risch will be leaving soon to join the U.S. Senate. Which prompts a thought or two.

There’s nothing especially wrong with the names under consideration. An appointee to a major office like lieutenant governor (yeah it’s statewide, so it’s major enough) is getting the office by a single unilateral decision, that of the governor, so it makes sense that this be someone who has also gotten backing from voters in other capacities, as well as demonstrating some substantial public service. (Hello, New York Governor Patterson.) And most of those on the Otter list and apparently interested in the job meet that standard. Representative Scott Bedke, R-Oakley; Senator Dean Cameron, R-Rupert; Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes, R-Soda Springs; Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney; former state Representative Dean Haagenson, R-Coeur d’Alene; Senator Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake; Senator Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint; Senator Brad Little, R-Emmett; Senator Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston; Senator John McGee, R-Caldwell; Representative Mike Moyle, R-Star; and former state Senator Sheila Sorensen, R-Boise, all hit the minimum threshold for credibility at least, and many do more than that.

The question here is a different one (than, say, apparently, in New York or, God save us, Illinois). Otter has deep experience in Idaho politics, has been in and around it for what’s approaching four decades; he’s a gregarious person, knows all the players; and he surely knows quite well all his options. The questions before him are more a matter of policy than personnel: Does he want a placeholder, or someone who will run for re-election in 2010? Or – should he decide not to run for governor again – who might follow him? Or to groom for another office (like Idaho’s 1st U.S. House district)? Might he want someone to undertake some particular task? But then, none of these questions really require any fresh research, either.

Otter is said to be prepared to make the appointment by next Tuesday or so. What’s unclear is why – especially since we’ve all known about the opening since November 4 – it needs to take that long.

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