Idaho Sen. Larry Craig plans to attend an Oct. 13 ceremony in Boise at which he and 11 other Idaho residents will be inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame.
The nonprofit organization that maintains the hall of fame picked Craig in March, months before the Republican senator’s well-publicized arrest and guilty plea to disorderly conduct, stemming from a sex-solicitation sting in an airport men’s bathroom.
“Larry Craig has made a great contribution to Idaho over the period of 20-some years,” said Harry Magnuson, a Wallace businessman and board director for the hall of fame. “At the time it was considered, this other matter had not come up.”
But some local Republicans say the honor is inappropriate in light of Craig’s June 11 arrest by an undercover police officer in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“They ought to change their minds, whoever they are,” Duane Rasmussen, president of the North Idaho Pachyderm Club, said about the hall of fame induction. “Sen. Larry Craig is an embarrassment to all of Idaho, and he needs to resign from office.”
Phil Thompson, a Kootenai County Republican precinct committeeman and vice chairman of the District 3 Republicans, also opposes the induction.
“Maybe in 10 or 15 years we can think of this hall of fame stuff. Now is not the time,” Thompson said. “It’s a sad day to be a Republican.”
Hall of fame board member Michael Ritz of Boise said it would be difficult to rescind the nomination.
“It’s like someone saying, ‘I voted for him. I wish I hadn’t,’ ” Ritz said. “It’s pretty difficult when someone’s been voted in and they’ve had acceptance letters and so on.”
This will be the organization’s ninth ceremony but the first since 2002. About 100 people were inducted from 1995 to 2002, including Chief Joseph, Coeur d’Alene writer and historian Louise Shadduck, World War II fighter ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, and local hospitality magnates Duane Hagadone and Bob Templin.
Gov. Butch Otter, Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, Boise State University football coach Chris Petersen, and John Grossenbacher, director of the Idaho National Laboratory nuclear and energy research center, are among those to be inducted alongside Craig.
Magnuson said he’d have to think more about withdrawing Craig’s name if someone were to propose doing that.
“Sen. Craig has made a great contribution,” he said. “That’s what he was recognized (for), and you can’t undo that, I don’t think.”