An Associated Press report now cites unnamed sources saying that Gov. Butch Otter will choose Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch to replace Sen. Larry Craig. Risch has been saying for months that he’ll run for the seat if Craig chooses not to run for re-election. Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, said just now, “We’ve made no promises or guarantees to anyone about this seat, because as of this hour, we are under the impression it is still occupied by Sen. Larry Craig. We have heard nothing from his office saying otherwise. We are not dealing in hypotheticals, we’re dealing in the facts. And at this hour that’s what we know.”
If Craig resigns, Otter would appoint his replacement. He could appoint 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson to the post, but then the state would have to hold a special election to fill Simpson’s congressional seat. Speculation has centered on Risch and Simpson, but there’s also been talk of the idea of appointing someone who wouldn’t run for the seat in 2008, such as retired Idaho Sen. Jim McClure or retired Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb. Then it would be up to voters to decide on the next senator.