Gov. Otter meets with Sen. Craig regarding his resignation, transition

September 5, 2007 

Gov. Butch Otter met with Sen. Larry Craig this morning about the transition expected if Craig resigns as he announced Saturday.

After the 10:45 a.m. meeting, Otter's press secretary Jon Hanian said the governor is proceeding based on the assumption that Craig will resign at the end of the month.

Otter told reporters this morning he hoped to have an appointment to fill Craig's seat a couple of weeks before his Sept. 30 resignation.

"We are working with the Senate staff to ensure the transition is made in an orderly fashion," Hanian said.

But Craig's reconsideration Tuesday of his intent to resign complicated the issue.

"If there is no vacancy, there is no appointment," Otter said.

Otter said he learned at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on Fox News of Craig's reconsideration. He said before he does anything, he wants to talk to Craig.

Otter said he has talked to a number of people he trusts about the appointment, including former U.S. senators who recommended he appoint Lt. Gov. Jim Risch. But he also has heard from former Attorney General David Leroy of Boise and former Idaho Sen. Dane Watkins of Idaho Falls who have an interest in the job.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Rep. Mike Simpson are also under consideration. But Otter has not made a decision yet.

Otter said he is also considering appointing someone who would simply serve out Craig's term.

"There is some advantage to a placeholder," Otter said.

But he has heard from Senate leadership that Craig's successor will not get Craig's valuable seat on Appropriations Committee. So the 15 months of seniority a successor who would eventually run for election would have would be valuable to the state.

When a reporter asked Otter whether Craig should resign, he replied, "I'm not going to go there."

Sen. Mike Crapo remains behind Craig no matter what decision he makes, said Crapo’s press secretary Lindsey Nothern. Both Idaho Republican Reps. Mike Simpson and Bill Sali also backed Craig.

“I didn’t think it was my place to suggest to Larry what to do last week, and I don’t think it is my place to suggest to him what to do this week," Simpson said. "Only Sen. Craig can decide what is best for him personally and professionally.”

Sali agreed.

"Congressman Sali is confident that the senator will make that decision with the best interests of the state of Idaho and his family in mind," said Wayne Hoffman, Sali’s press secretary.

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