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Minnick Enlists Andrus, Evans Former Governors Will Co-Chair Campaign Against Craig

Former Democratic governors Cecil Andrus and John Evans have agreed to be co-chairmen of Boise businessman Walt Minnick’s bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Larry Craig.

During an announcement Tuesday on the Statehouse steps, Evans recalled that when he was running for lieutenant governor and Andrus for governor in 1974, Andrus focused his campaigning from Boise north and Evans from Boise east.

“We anticipate doing that same thing now,” Evans said.

“We’re going to be out there on the campaign trail for Walt Minnick as often as we can.”

Andrus called Minnick, a former TJ International chairman and Republican White House aide during the Nixon administration, “a very independent, outspoken individual who has taken both parties to task when they had it coming, including yours truly.”

But Idaho’s only four-term governor brushed off a question about whether his help would be enough for Minnick to defeat Craig.

“Walt will be elected on his own, because of his qualifications and because of his ability,” Andrus said. “If lending my name and John lending his name to the campaign will get the people of Idaho to listen with reason and understanding to that substantial and constructive message, then he will get elected.”

Mike Reynoldson, Craig’s campaign manager, said Minnick’s choice of campaign co-chairs belies his claims to be an independent. “He’s got the most Democrat of Democrats co-chairing his campaign.”

Clearly energized by a return to the stump, Andrus seemed to relish the chance to help take on Craig, who is seeking his second Senate term after 10 years in the House.

Asked whether it will be a tough race, Andrus clenched his fists and said, “I’m not the candidate, but boy, I’d like to answer that.

“Let me just tell you that he’s scared to death. He’s been on the public dole for 20 years and he doesn’t want to be unemployed like Cece Andrus. So I’m saying that I hope that we will have him join my ranks,” Andrus said to laughs and applause from a crowd that included most Democratic state legislators, state Controller J.D. Williams and Idaho AFL-CIO President Randy Ambuehl.

“I am very pleased to have these two respected leaders endorse me and co-chair my campaign,” Minnick said.

“Not being a traditional Democrat, and never having run for office before, I appreciate their support.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo