Greg Casey: Idaho's Gen. Sherman

Rumors that prominent Republican Greg Casey will become the establishment candidate for 1st District Congress have been bubbling for weeks. Some Republicans seek an alternative to the two announced candidates against freshman Democrat Walt Minnick, House GOP Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of McCall and first-time candidate Vaughn Ward of Eagle.

But on Tuesday, Casey channeled Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and said he will not run.

Here's an excerpt of Casey's e-mail to me, written from his office in Washington, D.C.:

"And NO, I am NOT considering a race for the 1st CD! I suspect that rumor is being fed by those who read something into the fact my wife and I closed on our new house in Star last week.

"That isn't such a big (deal) considering I have always owned property in Idaho; have always voted in Idaho and have maintained business interests there through my partnership with VERITAS Advisors LLP. Idaho is now and will always remain my home. Sure -- I am coming home at some point and when I do, the last thing on my mind will be coming back here!!!"

Casey was chief of staff to former U.S. Rep. and Sen. Larry Craig. He also served as Sergeant of Arms and Doorkeeper of the U.S. Senate under former Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi. For the last decade, Casey has been president and CEO of the Business-Industry Political Action Committee in Washington, D.C.

He is close to former GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, having led his gubernatorial transition in 1998 and served as a member of Kempthorne's transition team when he became Interior secretary in 2006. He also was president of Idaho's largest business lobbying group, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Casey is an Idaho native and graduate of the University of Idaho and lives with his wife and their teenage son in Alexandria, Va.

As for Civil War icon Sherman, he set the standard for denying interest in high office in 1884, when he said he would not be president: "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

But in my view the most decisive proof that Casey isn't running isn't what he says. It's the fact he's sporting a beard, something an aspiring candidate in an Idaho GOP primary just can't do. For example, former GOP Rep. Bill Sali used to wear a beard, but was clean-shaven when elected in 2006.

Casey says my beard test is fallible: "Santa Claus has a beard!"

He cited a number of whiskered Members of Congress, including Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin and Alaska's Don Young.

Lest his defense of facial hair be misinterpreted by anyone interested in him running, Casey wrote, "The answer is still NO."

Greg Casey

Interesting stuff, Kevin. I'm a little disappointed he isn't running. As a reporter, I really enjoyed the couple of occasions I interviewed Casey. I found him to be bright, funny and sometimes brutally honest.