After almost 30 years as a player in Idaho politics at the local, state and federal level, Republican Sen. Jim Rischs communications director, Brad Hoaglun, has resigned and is looking for work.
Hoaglun and Rischs press secretary, Suzanne Bottorff, both said Hoaglun made the change for personal reasons.
It was difficult to do, but its the right thing to do, said Hoaglun, 54. He remains in his post as Meridian City Council president and said he plans to file for re-election by the Sept. 6 deadline.
Hoaglun was No. 3 on Rischs salary ladder, making $120,000 a year, trailing only Chief of Staff John Sandy ($169,457) and Administrative Director Kristine Hanisch ($130,000). Risch faces re-election in 2014, but no challengers on either the Republican or Democratic side have emerged.
Hoaglun offered this explanation:
When youre doing things and youre into it and youre working hard and you think youre doing a good job and I think I was sometimes that just takes over your life and your priorities get skewed. For me, things like God and family were starting to take a back seat and getting to the point were I had to make a change.
Its nothing like Sen. Risch and I dont see eye to eye. Hes disappointed that I left. It was hard for me to leave, but it was just something I had to do.
Ive known Hoaglun since 1986, when he was working for then-Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne and I was a wet-behind-the-ears City Hall reporter. Probably better than any flack Ive ever dealt with, Hoaglun withheld anger or impatience with questions, no matter how critical or potentially damaging. While loyal to his boss, he behaved as the best public servants do, putting the public interest at least on par with his patron.
He also wasnt keen for the spotlight. Hoaglun typically replied to requests for information within minutes, sometimes even while on vacation. On Wednesday, not having a reply to an email Tuesday, I mentioned to my boss the oddity of Hoagluns silence. About an hour later, I got a call from Bottorff, who said that Hoaglun was gone and that she was monitoring his email. Bottorff said she thought Hoaglun would have called by now. His last day with Risch was July 12.
When I reached Hoaglun, I asked why he hadnt put out a news release on such an important staff change. Over the phone, I could almost see him cringe. I left, he said. No story.
Hoaglun has held an eye-popping array of jobs: assistant chief clerk of the Idaho House; administrative officer for Lt. Gov. Dave Leroy during Leroys heartbreaking loss to Democrat Cecil Andrus in 1986; four years in Washington, D.C., as assistant to the U.S. Nuclear Waste Negotiator under Leroy and former Democratic Rep. Richard Stallings; director of constituent and media services in the Idaho Senate; running his own lobbying and association management firm; directing government relations for the American Cancer Society in Idaho; Rischs spokesman during his seven-month governorship; and, for two years, chief deputy to Idaho Controller Donna Jones. He reunited with Risch when Risch became a senator in 2009.
Hoaglun also ran his familys Meridian dairy farm, owned a candy store and deli in Boise, and was territory manager for Federal-Mogul Corp., a Michigan-based auto parts supplier. He graduated from Meridian High School and the College of Idaho.
A Meridian councilman since 2008, Hoaglun also has held key posts in the Idaho Republican Party, from precinct committeeman to Region IV chairman. When now-U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador first ran for the Legislature in 2006, Hoaglun was among those who counseled the candidate.
Only this week has Hoaglun begun to put out feelers. Im just taking some time off. Im starting to get the word out that Im looking, he said.
Hoaglun and his wife, Chandos, have two adult children, a daughter engaged to be married in November, and a son who works at the West Boise YMCA. Hoaglun has been active in the lay leadership of Valley Shepherd Nazarene Church.
Another federal job is unlikely, Hoaglun said. Hes casting a wide net, including local and state government, corporate communications, education and nonprofits. Im pretty much open to anything, Hoaglun said. I enjoy working with people and making a difference. Well see where it goes.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics