BOISE – There was a bit of confusion as to who was acting governor of Idaho on Tuesday, as the governor’s office initially reported that the first three in the line of succession were all out of state.
“Nobody has talked to me,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, fourth in the line of succession, reached while picking up supplies in Burley for a project at his ranch, where he’s building a fire ring so his grandkids can roast hot dogs and marshmallows. “I can do it if they need me – right here from Burley, Idaho.”
Gov. Butch Otter is at the Paris Air Show, where he’s leading a trade mission. Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who fills in for Otter when Otter’s out of state, was helping man the Idaho booth at the SelectUSA Summit in Washington, D.C., which runs June 18-20 and provides a venue for states to court international investors with the goal of increasing foreign direct investment into their states. Idaho sent 27 economic development leaders to the summit and has a large and prominent booth there.
Mark Warbis, Otter’s communications director, said via email, “With Gov. Otter and Lt. Gov. Little out of state, the role of acting governor normally would fall to Senate President Pro-Tem (Brent) Hill. But he also is out of state, so House Speaker Bedke is the Acting Governor.”
Bedke said he hadn’t been contacted. Warbis emailed back, “I can’t speak for whom was or not notified. I know that both the Governor and Lieutenant Governor speak with legislative leadership frequently. This office remains fully staffed, as does the Lieutenant Governor’s, to handle any immediate needs that might arise.”
Hill cleared things up two hours later. “I’m not out of state – no, I’m here,” he said. “I have a letter from the lieutenant governor saying I’m going to be the acting governor ’til tomorrow at noon.” Hill even changed his weekend plans, canceling a trip to Utah to see grandkids for Father’s Day. “I said, ‘nope, we’re on duty right now, so we’re going to stay in the state.’”
He added that he and the governor’s chief of staff, David Hensley, have been texting each other. “It’s really quite a formal process,” Hill said. “I get a signed letter from the lieutenant governor telling me exactly when it begins and when it ends. It’s very formal and we honor it very carefully.”
Little is due back in Idaho at midday on Tuesday; Otter is due back Friday night.