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Why not Risch?

Here’s a question: When Gov. Butch Otter was too sick this week to give a key speech, why didn’t he turn to his official stand-in, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, to do it for him, rather than chief of staff Jason Kreizenbeck? Risch says the governor didn’t ask him, and besides, “The appropriate person to deliver that speech was Kreizenbeck. Kreizenbeck worked closely with him on these issues, knew them substantially better then me. Kreizenbeck was the right one.”

Risch, who sometimes stands in for Otter at appearances but gives his own speeches when he does so, said, “I think that would’ve been unusual, for him to ask me to deliver his speech. … That speech really needed to be given as he wanted it given. That was altogether appropriate, and well-done, well-executed.” Asked what he thinks of Otter’s transportation proposal unveiled in the speech, including a gas tax increase and hikes in vehicle registration fees, Risch said, “I think probably I would leave that to he and this Legislature. I’ve got my plate full, and it would be counterproductive of me to weigh into that.”

Risch, who will be sworn in as a U.S. senator on Jan. 6, said he won’t resign his lieutenant governor post until that date. “I ran for that office and I was elected to do it,” he said. Since Otter has said he won’t announce his pick for Risch’s replacement until Risch has resigned, that means some continued uncertainty in the state Senate, where at least two members of GOP leadership are among the contenders for the position. If one of them – Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes or Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Brad Little – gets the post, senators would have to hold new leadership elections, a process they just completed this week, re-electing both to their posts.


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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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