The Idaho GOP's knickers are in almost as much of a twist as Mitch McConnell's over Larry Craig's recalcitrance, with a couple of key exceptions: Craig's mountain west colleagues, who seems wholeheartedly supportive of Craig:
Perhaps most significant of all, Craig's Idaho colleague, Sen. Mike Crapo hinted that Craig may attempt to reclaim his status as the senior Republican on the Veterans Affairs Committee and a key Appropriations subcommittee. GOP leadership asked him to relinquish those posts in the days after Aug. 27, when news of his guilty plea broke.Please, Sen. Craig, try to reclaim your seniority on your committees. That is most certainly a fight with your leadership that is worth having. You've got Orrin Hatch on your side! Fight! Fight!
"I support Larry in his decision," Crapo told me shortly after Craig reversed his intention to resign. "He has every right, like all of us do, to pursue his legal defense against these charges. I'm fully supportive of him continuing to do that and I look forward to working with him in the Senate while he pursues his defense of the case."
Craig also has the support of an important neighbor, Utah GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former Judiciary Committee chairman.
Hatch told me he wishes Craig hadn't pleaded guilty in August. "That was a case that had he not pled guilty and taken it on, any attorney in the country could have won," Hatch said. "I would have won it for him."
Craig's 29 would-be successors to his senate seat are wisely keeping mum on the latest. But they're the only ones not talking:
"Obviously, the easiest and the least painful thing for everybody would have been for Larry to resign. No question about it. And I told Larry that. I said, ‘The easiest thing, and the best thing, would be for you to resign. But I'm not asking you to resign. I want you to understand that. You have to make that decision and you have to make it alone. But I'm telling you that in my opinion the easiest thing and the best thing for you, for your family and for Idaho, is to resign. But Larry, you have to make that decision.' "One thing you can say about Butch Otter, he's not subtle. You could also say that he might just be a bit worried about what Craig is doing to the party back home. What a pity.
Gov. Butch Otter in a Q & A with Newsweek Online published Friday.
"He's a lame duck with a very serious cloud over him. I have compassion for him. But wouldn't it be better to have a person there that didn't have that cloud over him? Whoever that person is, if they're successful in their election efforts, would be at the head of all the new senators."
Rod Beck, a former state lawmaker and local GOP official from Boise