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News >  Idaho Voices

Keogh ‘honored’ by Otter’s consideration

Betsy Z. Russell Staff writer

BOISE – Sandpoint Sen. Shawn Keough said she wasn’t expecting it when she got a call from Gov. Butch Otter on Christmas Eve, asking whether she’d consider an appointment as lieutenant governor.

The sixth-term Republican was one of about 30 people Otter talked to about the job, before this week appointing Sen. Brad Little, R-Emmett, to the post. “I think the governor made a great choice and that Brad will do an excellent job,” Keough said.

She said when Otter contacted her, “We had a delightful conversation about the job. I was truly honored to have been considered, thought of. It was totally unexpected, but very much an honor.”

Otter signs Pickens pledge

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has signed a pledge to join T. Boone Pickens’ campaign to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. Otter joins more than 1.3 million others in endorsing the plan, making him a part of the “Pickens Army.”

“One of my goals as governor is to fully utilize Idaho’s resources to increase our own state’s energy supply,” Otter said. “Establishing energy security for this state and this country should be a top priority. While there are some aspects of the Pickens plan I still have concerns about, I am signing this pledge to lend my voice to T. Boone Pickens and others calling for a comprehensive energy plan to end our reliance on foreign oil.”

Pickens responded, “Gov. Otter recognizes that importing nearly 70 percent of the oil this country uses every day not only hurts our economy, but is a threat to national security. In order to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil, this country needs a plan. I am proud to have Gov. Otter on my side as we call on President-elect Barack Obama and Congress to enact an energy plan within the first 100 days of the new administration.” Read more about the pledge at

Stennett, Malepeai to miss session kickoff

Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, will send a stand-in for the start of the legislative session on Monday as he rests up from the latest phase of his brain cancer treatment before resuming his full-time legislative duties.

“It is hard to know all the obstacles such an illness may place before you, but you tackle them one at a time, and continue to look forward,” Stennett said in a statement. “I am still positive about my health, and look forward to working hard again for District 25.” Stennett is recommending former Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson, who filled in for him for a week last year, as a temporary replacement.

Meanwhile, Sen. Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, also is sending a stand-in due to his wife’s continuing illness. Former Idaho State University Dean Richard Sagness, who filled in for Malepeai for the entire session last year, will do so again.

‘Rarely trusted with anything sharp’

As a former lieutenant governor, Gov. Otter couldn’t resist a little joshing about his former job this week as he announced his appointment of Little to the post. Otter said he made his pick from among “a terrific group of people that were willing to step forward and take that position, even after I told them, as the longest-serving lieutenant governor in the history of Idaho, I wanted to let them know that … the lieutenant governor rarely gets trusted with anything sharp or anything of value, and never the original of anything.” Amid laughter, he continued, “And even at that, there were many that did step forward and were very enthusiastic about it.”

W’s nickname for Kempthorne?

When Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, former governor of Idaho, gave his final, formal speech as secretary in Boise this week, the audience submitted questions on cards for him to answer after his speech. One asked what nickname President George W. Bush had for Kempthorne as a member of his cabinet – the president is known for using nicknames. After much laughter, including plenty from Kempthorne himself, he seemed to hesitate a moment, and then said, “Some things stay in the Cabinet.”

One disappointed audience member was Jim Weatherby, Boise State University political scientist emeritus, and an observer of Kempthorne throughout his career. “He didn’t answer my question,” said a laughing Weatherby.

Kempthorne did reveal, however, that at Cabinet meetings, the president himself is known as “interruptor in chief.”

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or For more news from Boise go to
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