In Chapter 5 of my recently published book, Medimont Reflections, I posed the question that if Idaho’s great senator, William E. Borah, was known as “the Lion of Idaho,” what historical female practitioner of the political arts should we award the title “the Lioness of Idaho?”
The chapter cited several worthy contenders, but drilled down on the case for Verda Barnes, Senator Frank Church’s long-time chief of staff, and Louise Shadduck, the long-time chief assistant to two governors, a senator and a congressman.
For retired former Twin Falls and Coeur d’Alene pastor, Mike Bullard, the choice was easy - hands down he believes it should be the former member of his last congregation, Louise Shadduck. He has written an enjoyable and informative 240-page biography of the multi-faceted, talented Shadduck, who grew up in Coeur d’Alene, cut her teeth in journalism and was a longtime member and former president of the National Federation of Press Women.
Always torn between a love of writing (she wrote and had published five books) and a love of politics, Bullard makes it clear she never really resolved the conflict. A creative tension always existed for her as she tried to balance feet in both worlds. Her love of politics eventually led her in 1956 to challenge First District congresswoman Gracie Pfost. It became the first race for a congressional seat in the nation ever between the major parties where each nominated a woman to carry the banner.
Despite losing, Louise never regretted making the race and called it one of her life’s great learning experiences.
During an interview with Bullard about Louise, who I had known since 1972 (I did a profile from Washington, D.C.), I mentioned that I was calling one chapter “The Lioness of Idaho” and essentially the answer in my mind came down to Louise or Verda. I mentioned also that I thought there were actually two classes of contenders for the title, those that had served in Congress, and those that had not.
Of course neither of the “finalists” served in elective office so it turned out to be a moot question.
After pondering it for awhile, Bullard decided to call his book Lioness of Idaho. He kindly asked if I minded and also said he would like to copyright it. He did both with my full blessing.
His subtitle though quintessentially highlights one of the attributes that distinguished Louise during her rich and full life. Bullard’s subtitle is “The Politics of Polite,” and that was a key ingredient in her long 93 year span. (more…)