Republican Congressman Michael Crapo has problems that most politicians would love to have.
For example, barring some unlikely development there is next to no chance anyone could keep Crapo from winning a third term next year in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District.
He is a conservative Republican and Mormon in a conservative district that hasn’t sent a non-Mormon to Congress since the 1940s. And in his two previous congressional elections he never polled less than 60 percent.
More importantly, Crapo hasn’t made many enemies in his nearly three years in Congress.
Twin Falls podiatrist Peter Rickards has talked of challenging Crapo in next spring’s GOP primary but isn’t expected to pose much of a threat. And the Democrats might not even field a candidate against Crapo next year and instead focus on unseating Sen. Larry Craig and 1st District Rep. Helen Chenoweth.
So at 44, Crapo’s concerns carry beyond the next election - whether to stay in a Congress which is increasingly exciting because his party controls it, or prepare to campaign for governor down the road.
He says serving in Congress is more interesting when there is a chance to accomplish something. And Crapo is in a good position to do that. He was picked for a secondary GOP House leadership position and if not in step, he’s at least in tune with House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
He is a little frustrated that congressional reforms haven’t moved faster, but remains optimistic they ultimately will come.
So it’s the longer term Crapo has been thinking about.
His wife, Susan, and their five children, ranging from a high school junior to a third-grader, remained in Idaho Falls when Crapo went to Washington.
His staff tries to carve out family time almost every weekend, but it doesn’t always work. During the fall recess, Crapo planned four days with his wife and children that got wiped out when he had to stay in Washington for a Medicaid hearing.
Obviously, the family situation can’t continue indefinitely, and that might be a factor influencing Crapo to run for governor so he can return to the state full-time.
But Batt hasn’t declared definitely that he won’t run for a second term, although most political observers see it that way. If Batt runs again in 1998, Crapo probably will remain in Congress.
If Batt is out, Crapo will have to look seriously at running for governor. But he won’t be handed the GOP nomination without a fight. House Speaker Mike Simpson is preparing for a possible campaign, and if Batt does step aside, the field could become much more crowded.
Crapo admits the prospect of being Idaho’s governor is attractive, but he’s in no hurry to try for it.
In addition to all his other political pluses, Crapo will still be in his early or mid-50s during the gubernatorial campaigns of 2002 and 2006.