Luna foe abandons third recall effort, calls Idaho voters lazy, apathetic, spineless

Comedian and former gubernatorial candidate Pete Peterson has finally given up on his underfunded campaign to remove Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna from office this fall, a year before he faces re-election to a third term.

Late last month, Peterson said he would decide whether to proceed based on how many people contributed $10 to the recall campaign by May 15. Peterson also said was counting on a new strategy that included adding strippers and drag queens to the campaign.

But Peterson, the campaign’s treasurer, pulled the plug early, letting me know in a dispirited voicemail that he’d had enough.

“We’ve decided to end the 2013 Luna recall,” Peterson said. “We gave it a very good shot and the voters were very much disinterested.”

Continued Peterson: “I personally am very disappointed with the voters of Idaho. It turns out that the good old boys in this state are correct: The voters are too lazy, apathetic and they have no backbone. So, this whole thing failed. It could have worked, but without any support it’s time to call it quits.”

Peterson predicted a “mass exodus” of public school teachers from Idaho, adding that as an Idaho native, “for the first time in my life I’m ashamed to call myself an Idahoan.”

Peterson had planned to begin collecting the necessary signatures from 158,000 registered voters on June 13. Signatures would have been due on Aug. 27.  In 2011, after passage of Luna’s “Students Come First” laws, recall organizers quit after saying they were more than 100,000 signatures short. A second effort also failed.

Peterson left his voicemail Friday, when I was out of town. He finished fourth in the six-way Republican primary for governor in 2010, with 5.2 percent of the vote. The winner was incumbent Gov. Butch Otter, Luna’s ally on “Students Come First.”



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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