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Butch wins friends in Eastern Idaho

What if you represent North Idaho in Congress, but you’re running for governor and you want to win friends over in Eastern Idaho? 1st District Rep. Butch Otter found a way to do just that when President Bush came to town. Otter used his allotment of tickets to the president’s Idaho Center speech not for the folks from his own 1st District, but for two busloads of GOP party faithful from Eastern Idaho, which is in the 2nd Congressional District. (He also gave tickets to military families.)

The Eastern Idaho Republicans “started in from Rexburg at 4 in the morning, went to Idaho Falls, had another bus in Pocatello,” said Otter campaign manager Debbie Field. “They met up and caravanned.” The GOP bus-riders were served continental breakfast on the ride over, and pizza on the way back. “It turned out really nice – we had a great experience,” Field said. She noted that Eastern Idaho was close enough for a one-day trip, while a North Idaho caravan would have required an overnight. “He just said that since it was the president’s first time here, he wanted to make sure that people from Eastern Idaho had an opportunity.”

The effort may have had something to do with the loud cheers for Otter at the Idaho Center event – and with the waves and thanks he gets these days when campaigning in eastern Idaho, which he’s been doing a lot of. Political watchers expect that part of the state to be the toughest challenge for Otter, and more fertile ground for his expected GOP primary rival, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who won big in the east when he won his current office. Risch hasn’t yet announced his candidacy.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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