Larry Craig

Otter won't name ‘placeholder' for Craig's seat

Gov. Butch Otter has decided against naming a "placeholder" to replace U.S. Sen. Larry Craig and said he'll instead choose a candidate who will seek a full term in the Senate in the next election.

Otter rejected the placeholder idea out of concern for Idaho's clout in the Senate, said his press secretary, Jon Hanian. "He gave it a hard look, but I think in the end he decided it wasn't the most prudent way to go."

Otter's decision came after urging from 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to avoid a temporary officeholder. Both cited a need to build up seniority for Idaho's next senator to secure key committee assignments. Craig's departure — assuming he resigns Sept. 30 as he's said he'll most likely do — means Idaho loses a seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee and other sought-after posts that he had secured because of his seniority.

Otter has named several possible successors, including Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, state Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, former state Sen. Dane Watkins and former Lt. Gov. David Leroy. Otter's decision not to go with a placeholder, however, would seem to eliminate Leroy, who said Thursday that he'd consider an interim appointment but plans to support Risch for Senate in the 2008 election.

Hanian said the governor has no timetable in mind for making his decision.

Craig hinted early last week that he might not resign if he can clear up both his ethics complaint and his Minnesota criminal case by Sept. 30, but his staff said that's only a slim possibility. He has, however, ruled out running for re-election.