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The Little announcement

carlson CHRIS


Lt. Governor Brad Little is announcing this week in a series of statewide appearances that he will ask the voters to renew his lease on the state’s number two position.

They should regardless of whom the Democrats may offer as the alternative.

The former four-term state senator from Emmett has performed well whether leading trade missions or greeting visitors to his office.

In this writer’s opinion the 59-year-old Little is the best to hold the office since former State Senator John V. Evans served as lieutenant governor to Cecil Andrus. That is saying something because Idaho has had a series of fine “governors in waiting,” all of whom did the state solid service especially when called on to exercise the full power of the Office of Governor when the sitting governor is out of state.

The list includes such luminaries as Phil Batt, David Leroy, Jack Riggs and the current governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter. Others on the list include Bill Murphy, Mark Ricks and current U.S. Senator, James Risch.

While the official duties are few – chair the State Senate and, if necessary, break tie votes, as well as substitute for the governor especially when he is traveling out of state, there are numerous demands on the office. By all accounts, Little does his homework and performs well to the credit of the voters who conferred the public office on him.

The founders thought the position would be part-time, so the salary is a paltry $35,000 per year, but in today’s demanding, competitive environment, it is increasingly a full-time job. Thus, many of those who have held the office often have had to supplement needed items from their own purse.

Thus, almost all have been or are men of means.

Such is the case with Little. He is the owner and operator of a family cattle, farming and investment operation in the Treasure Valley and has served with quiet distinction on a number of boards and foundations. He is a former chair of the state’s most powerful and influential lobbying group, the Association of Idaho Commerce and Industry; and, a former president of the Idaho Woolgrower’s Association.

He wears cowboy boots, but in his case it is authentic and genuine. He projects an image of a well-educated rancher, which he is, having obtained his Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness from the University of Idaho. He is a thoughtful, solid conservative, not an ideologue nor someone who the Tea Party zealots currently plaguing Idaho’s Republican Party would embrace.

Soft spoken, he has a fine sense of humor, is well read and can give thoughtful remarks with a country-boy eloquence that engages and enthralls his audience. His political future has always been bright as he was the beneficiary of appointments to both his Senate seat and to the lieutenant governor’s office.

Even his marriage to Teresa Soulen in 1978 carried the political advantage of uniting two of the state’s most influential ranching families.

While his partisans and supporters may consider the wait for him to assume the office he seems destined for to be an overly long nine years, Governor Otter himself pointed out that he had to bide his time for 14 years.

Little knows though there is no guaranteed path to his crown prince status automatically converting to the governor’s crown someday. Popular as he is it is doubtful in 2018 he would be crowned by acclimation.

The GOP has a strong bench with at least four others having the skill and ability to be a good governor. Much as they individually may like Little, they could still mount credible challenges to his appearing to have inherited the office.

These others include House Speaker Scott Bedke from Oakley; State Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis from Idaho Falls; State Senator Dean Cameron from Rupert; and, State Senator Shawn Keough from Sandpoint.

For now though, Brad Little is a lock to be re-elected and my advice to my good friend, Larry Kenck, chair of the Idaho Democratic Party, is not to waste precious resources running anyone against him. He deserves to be returned to office and he has my vote. He should have yours also.

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