Larry Craig

Simpson doesn't want to replace Craig

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said Thursday that he wants to stay in the House of Representatives.

Gov. Butch Otter was considering Simpson, R-Idaho, to replace Sen. Larry Craig in the Senate when Craig resigns Sept. 30, as a Craig spokesman said Thursday is likely. But Simpson said staying on the House Appropriations Committee is critical for Idaho since Senate Republicans leaders will not give Craig's successor his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which decides how Congress spends money.

"Losing both appropriation seats would be devastating to the state," Simpson told the Idaho Statesman.

That leaves Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, former Attorney General David Leroy and former Idaho Falls state Sen. Dane Watkins among the candidates Otter has identified. Otter also said Wednesday that he would consider a caretaker to serve the 15 months remaining in Craig's term but not run for election in 2008.

Leroy said in a statement Thursday that he expects to support Risch in the upcoming campaign for the Senate. But he left the door open for a caretaker role: "If the governor calls about the unexpired term, I would be honored to take his call," he said.

Wasden said he expects to remain attorney general, though his dream since childhood has been to be a U.S. senator from Idaho.

Watkins and Risch did not return phone calls by deadline.

Otter said Wednesday that he hoped to appoint Craig's successor within two weeks.

Rocky Barker: 377-6484