Comedian pushing Luna recall sets May deadline on continuing campaign

Boise comic Pete Peterson says a decision to proceed on the million-to-one chance of removing Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna will be announced May 15, based on how many people contribute $10 by his latest deadline.

Peterson has twice failed to gather the 158,000 signatures necessary to put a recall before voters. In 2011, when the momentum was greatest, organizers said they were more than 100,000 short, but never filed their petitions. Boise Weekly profiles Peterson this week, with a photo of him in a scary mask and his profane lamentation about his failed attempts to get arrested.

Peterson has a habit of leaving me long voicemails in the middle of the night, typically around 2 a.m. when the bars close. He usually calls to comment on my shortcomings as a journalist, but always says, “Have a nice day.” He also updates me on the status of the doomed recall campaign.

Peterson’s calls came earlier than normal last night, with two messages around 11:30 p.m.

The first Peterson voicemail is amusing enough, outlining a strategy he calls “Let’s Go Worldwide”, which aims to use Facebook to spread the word. Peterson says he plans to “add a couple of powerful political groups and kind of an odd combination — strippers and drag queens.”

The jokester then noted that drag queen Minerva Jayne has over 4,000 Facebook friends.

Luna, of course, will be up for re-election to a third term in 2014, and has said he’s not sure he’ll run. The May 2014 GOP primary and November 2014 general present a real chance to elect a new superintendent.

But Peterson’s quest, he says, is to have fun. To each his own. However, if Peterson’s snowball didn’t melt and somehow he gathered the signatures for a November 2013 vote, he would then face the impossible task of drawing out 268,853 foes of Luna to an election that would include no other statewide or congressional races. Instead, the ballot will feature mayoral and city council races, which typically draw turnout below 20 percent. (The 268,853 figure is one more than voted for Luna in 2010, the total necessary to remove him from office early.)

I found Peterson’s second voicemail offensive, so I won’t provide the audio here. He says he’s looking for an “exit strategy” should the recall fail, predicting that Congressman Raul Labrador will be elected governor in 2014. Peterson said he couldn’t abide such a development, saying, “I’m learning Mexican,” so he can move to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic.

One promising development is Peterson’s setting a deadline for the 2013 recall. “One thing that’s very nice is that by midnight May 14, we’ll know,” Peterson said of the fundraising push. An announcement will follow at 10:35 a.m. May 15 on whether the signature campaign will continue. “This thing could take off exponentially, or if may well fizzle,” he said.

Bet on the latter, Pete.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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