Former Idaho Gov. Jim Risch launched his campaign for Larry Craig’s U.S. Senate seat today, even as Craig continues to fight for his political life in Washington, D.C. Idaho Republicans closed ranks around Risch, with state party Chairman Kirk Sullivan and all but one of the GOP statewide elected officials joining Risch for his announcement and endorsing his run – even though the primary election still is seven months away.
“It was the right thing do to – we have got to elect a Republican senator next year,” Sullivan said. “We are going to have to fight very hard.”
Democratic candidate Larry LaRocco, who has been running for the seat since April 11, held a jubilant press conference just after Risch’s, saying his campaign’s right on track. “Bring ‘em on,” he said of the Republicans. LaRocco lost to Risch just last year in a race for lieutenant governor, but the former Democratic congressman said he started late in that race. “Now I’ve started early,” he said.
Risch told a cheering crowd of close to 100, “The bottom line is I’m in.” In response to questions from reporters, Risch said he spoke to Craig only once after the senior senator’s press conference in which he announced his “intent” to resign from the Senate Sept. 30 in the wake of his arrest and guilty plea in a bathroom sex-solicitation sting. Craig later changed his mind, and said he’d serve out the rest of his third Senate term, then retire. “Certainly there’s no doubt that this has been a time of considerable personal suffering" for Sen. Craig and his family, Risch said. “Having said that, it's really time for Idaho to move forward. ... I’m prepared to lead us forward.” Read my full story here at spokesmanreview.com.