Election Central

Nothing personal: Beck hopes Otter names him to Idaho House

Despite his efforts to overturn the Republican establishment, former state Sen. Rod Beck says there’s no rancor surrounding his disagreements with Gov. Butch Otter and that he’s hopeful Otter will appoint him to the Legislature.

“I’ve had some political differences with the governor over the years, but never a personal issue,” Beck said Friday morning in an email, about 12 hours after the District 15 Republican Committee made Beck its top choice to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise.

Beck added that Otter’s recent decisions to appoint the top choices of District 18 Democrats for two vacancies may be a good sign. “The governor just accepted the top picks of the Democratic Party to fill two vacancies in the Legislature, so I’ll just hope for the best,” Beck said.

The other two nominees are Patrick E. McDonald, U.S. marshal for Idaho under President George W. Bush and a 33-year veteran officer of the Idaho State Police; and Sam Hoagland, a Boise lawyer since 1982 who also is trained as a pharmacist.

Beck, the regional chairman representing Ada County on the State GOP Central Committee, has been a leader of anti-establishment forces battling Otter. He joined Ron Paul loyalists in engineering the humiliating defeat of Otter’s choice for Idaho Republican chairman in 2008, Kirk Sullivan, and recently mocked Otter’s good friend Congressman Mike Simpson in a YouTube video produced at a Gem State Tea Party meeting.

But when the Paulers tried to use parliamentary maneuvers to overturn Mitt Romney’s victory in the 2012 Idaho presidential caucus Beck resisted the failed effort, saying,  “It would be a slap in the face to those thousands of people who turned out for the caucus.”

On Friday, Beck pointed out that while he was in the Senate from 1985-1990 and in 1995, Otter was lieutenant governor and the Senate’s presiding officer.

“I worked with him daily,” Beck said. “As you know, I would require no additional legislative training.”

On top of being the District 15 GOP’s top choice, Beck cited his considerable legislative and party experience.

“Not too often does the governor have a person with my background: Senate majority leader, committee chairman, member of various committees, i.e. JFAC, Education, Transportation, Judiciary & Rules, State Affairs, Commerce & Human Resources and currently member of the Executive Committee of the Idaho Republican Party as region chairman.”

In 1995, GOP Gov. Phil Batt appointed Beck executive director of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association. After three years, Beck was replaced by the IHFA board.

Beck also has run for statewide office.

In his 1992 GOP primary race for U.S. Senate, Beck finished second to Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne. Kempthorne was a formidable foe, who went on to defeat Democratic Congressman Richard Stallings and to win two terms as governor and serve as Interior secretary under President George W. Bush.

Beck ran for the federal post after voters in District 15 defeated him in 1990 over his advocacy of what was then the country’s most restrictive anti-abortion law. House Bill 625 was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus. Opposition to the bill cost Republicans several seats in the Legislature and drew the Senate to a 21-21 tie between the GOP and Democrats. As lieutenant governor, Otter broke the tie that kept Republicans in control of the chamber.

Beck reclaimed his Idaho Senate seat in 1994, giving it up in April 1995 for the IHFA job.


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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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics