Hoping to avoid repeat of 2008, Otter is recruiting candidates for Idaho GOP chairman; Labrador makes nice

Gov. Butch Otter says he's spoken with three candidates to replace outgoing GOP Chairman Norm Semanko, who embarrassed Otter in 2008 when he ousted then-Chairman Kirk Sullivan.

"I was roundly criticized by all you guys that I couldn't control my own party and I was probably the only governor in the United States that didn't have his choice as party chairman," Otter told me late last week. "I've been able to work with Norm, but you know, I just don't want that to happen again."

Otter said he's talked with an unspecified number of possible candidates. "Most of the names I've gotten, they're either busy or they're not interested. I would say right now there's probably three that are interested."

Otter declined to name the three.

First District U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, a key player in boosting Semanko in 2008, said Monday that he's hoping to agree on a consensus candidate with Otter, as well as his GOP House colleague, Rep. Mike Simpson, and Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

"My hope is that we can all sit down together and choose somebody that we can all get behind so we don't have that intraparty fight again," Labrador said.

"I have made it clear to people who are interested that it should be somebody who appeals to the establishment and also the grass roots of the party. We have had a divide between the establishment and the grass roots. I think this is a tremendous opportunity for us to unify behind one party chairman. So whatever I can do to help the governor with that, I'm 100 percent behind it."

Labrador aide Phil Hardy said an untold story was "how close" Otter and Labrador have become now that Labrador holds the 1st District seat that Otter held from 2001-2007.

Said Labrador: "I don't know how close we've become; we have a very good relationship."

Semanko told me Friday that he wouldn't run for for a third two-year term as chairman at the state convention in June, saying he informed Otter in late December. Semanko said he revealed his plans to the GOP Executive Committee on Jan. 6.

"Four years is long enough for anyone to serve as chairman," Semanko wrote me in an email. "We have some great success and I am fortunate to serve such a great group of folks throughout the state. To my knowledge, the last person to serve longer was Dennis Olsen -- in the late 1970s. We are very fortunate to have a deep bench and I have no doubt that the Idaho Republican delegates at the state convention will select a capable replacement to fill this volunteer position."

Olsen, the late husband of redistricting commissioner Sheila Olsen, served from 1977 until 1985, when he died at 54 of a heart attack.

Semanko also released a guest opinion Friday to Idaho newspapers saying he would not run again.

During his fall 2011 campaign for mayor of Eagle, Semanko said he planned to step down as chairman were he elected mayor. Mayor Jim Reynolds, however, defeated Semanko 78 percent to 22 percent. Semanko subsequently joined one of Idaho's largest law firms, Moffatt Thomas.

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Get it Right Otter


Is that code for,, get er

Is that code for,, get er done

Governor Otter...

Governor Otter, let's select a party chairman willing to look out for the best interests of all Idaho citizens. Yes, the position is to head the Idaho Republican delegation, but please remember that we need a Republican party that also works for Idaho, not just Republicans. Idaho citizens have expressed tremendous disappointment over Speaker Denney's partisan actions against Dolores Crow and his lockdown of the House legislative offices barring public citizen access while lobbyists freely roam. The Republican delegation can demonstrate a renewed focus on serving and protecting all Idahoans by supporting the "Add The Words" campaign to add "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho Human Rights Act. We still have many Idaho citizens who desperately need the protections provided by the Human Rights Act in the areas of employment, housing, and other basic facets of Idaho life. Governor Otter, be on the right side of history. Add the words. It won't hurt.


"I was roundly criticized by all you guys that I couldn't control my own party"

Understatement of the year. You can't control them when you condone them.

Hey Norm

This is where the cowboy says goodbye.

I can think of only one guy who meets Otter's criteria...

Wayne Hoffman!!!

I just threw up a little...

I find that option sickening.

Make it Dolores

Dolores Crow has proved she's no RINO! She's perfect for the job.

Can't be Hoffman

His website says he's not political.


"We have had a divide between the establishment and the grass roots."
More like a divide between the GOP establishment and integrity.

Time for a purity battle

Time to get rid of those RINO's and have only the purist remain in the party.

And alienate the rest of the

And alienate the rest of the republicans who haven't jumped ship yet? Sure.



Ten Foot Pole

That's not even close to being long enough to touch that job. I can't imagine anyone who'd want to be the chair unless he or she had a keg of Prilosec on tap.

well ya see there's the grass roots and then there's the establi

"We have had a divide between the establishment and the grass roots"

What exactly is the difference between the establishment and the grass roots?

Grass roots; is that a euphemism for 'crazy bubbas'?

"Silly Republicans; Orwell's 1984 was a warning not a blueprint." Unknown