The big story from Wednesday afternoon, obviously, was Sen. John McGee’s resignation in the face of a sexual harassment complaint. Lots of takes from this story, so let’s dive in:
• I thought Dan Popkey's column hit on an important point: Senate leaders went out of their way to go public with the details of McGee’s resignation.
“Most institutions would have trotted out the ‘personal reasons’ boilerplate, leaving Idahoans to speculate on what might have finally brought the man-who-would-be-governor down.
“Not the Idaho Senate under Brent Hill.
“Hill is both a gentleman and a gentle man. And he may simply be heartsick — the word Majority Leader Bart Davis chose to describe his own mood.
“But Hill made it clear he’s had his fill with McGee’s recklessness.”
• From the Senate GOP statement, here’s a quote from Hill: “The Senate also expresses compassion for Senator McGee’s family — especially his wife. The Senate is shocked by the allegations and resignation.”
• For video from the Senate GOP news conference, and more detail, here’s a story from IdahoReporter.com’s Dustin Hurst, who broke the McGee news Wednesday afternoon.
• Dennis Mansfield, a former state Senate candidate himself, chose to not to pile on McGee, and instead called out members of Senate GOP leadership. “John McGee will soon be old news. The GOP leadership of the state Senate is new news EVERYDAY.
“Maybe it is time for the entire GOP Senate to have a vote of confidence about their leadership... and maybe pile on them.”
• Idaho Conservative Blogger also took a hard line with Senate leaders. Here’s an excerpt:
“If this alleged sexual harassment took place during this year’s legislative session the Senate leadership has some real explaining to do. If after voting to allow McGee to keep his leadership position as caucus chairman, knowing McGee’s recent run of poor choices, the leadership choosing to look past it when he could have been removed and then something like this happens? I say shame on them! What were they thinking? Do they not have some accountability here too? I’m just asking.”
(As a footnote, and to answer the question posed by ICB: Davis told the Statesman that the alleged incident occurred during the session.)
• In its statement last night, the Idaho Democratic Party came out swinging. Said state party chairman Larry Grant: “I am glad that GOP leadership has finally accepted that something must be done to turn around the culture that has rooted itself in the Statehouse.”
My first reaction was that I was surprised the Democrats tried to score points on this issue. Usually, parties tread a little more lightly on a story like this.
• And lastly, here’s a snippet from my column today. I found myself struck by the fact that McGee’s careful attempts at political self-control are at variance with a personal life that seemed to lack self-control: “(Wednesday’s) news was sudden, but can it really be surprising?
“Only if you believe — as McGee asserted and a majority of Senate Republicans accepted — that McGee’s Father’s Day arrest was somehow an isolated lapse of judgment.”