Say this for Lt. Gov. Jim Risch: He learns from history.
In December 2004, Butch Otter beat Risch to the punch by dictating the terms of the 2006 governor's race — announcing his candidacy even before then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne had ruled out seeking a third term. Joining the race first, Otter quickly corraled some high-powered GOP support, leaving Risch on the outside.
Risch eventually decided against a run for governor — although it took him until November 2005 to finally make it official. Risch decided to seek re-election as lieutenant governor, even after Kempthorne left the Statehouse to serve as interior secretary, giving Risch a seven-month run as governor.
This time around, Risch made sure to make the first move. He jumped into the U.S. Senate race Tuesday morning, just five days after the embattled and unpredictable Larry Craig said he would not seek re-election. Flanked by the likes of Otter and Sen. Mike Crapo, Risch immediately staked out his turf as the GOP's establishment choice to succeed Craig.
I agree with ace pundits style="text-decoration:underline;">Dan Popkey and style="text-decoration:underline;">Randy Stapilus: Tuesday's show of force certainly may have the effect of scaring off other mainstream Republicans, such as Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who had been eyeing an appointment to the Senate. And I think the Spokane, Wash. Spokesman-Review's style="text-decoration:underline;">Betsy Russell presents an intriguing theory: Perhaps Idaho Republicans are trying to put some unspoken pressure on Craig to resign.
However, I also see a shrewd politico refusing to get outflanked a second time.