Otter reflects on 40-year relationship ‘Godfather’ Pete Cenarrusa

I’ll have a story in Friday’s paper about my interview with Gov. Butch Otter about how he relied on late Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa for advice. Otter called Cenarrusa his “political godfather.”

As Otter was weighing an issue or course of action, Cenarrusa would often ask, “How important is this to you?”

“A lot of things I haven’t done after being asked that question,” Otter said. “In all of the political guidance that Pete the godfather provided, I don’t think he ever steered me wrong.”

Otter also implies an answer to a bit of political legend about Cenarrusa’s piloting skills and the time he was late to a meeting in his home town, Carey.

“He said, ‘I can neither confirm nor deny,’” Otter said, laughing at the memory.

Cenarrusa’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Friday at St. John’s Cathedral. We’ll also be covering that event.

To learn more, read Friday’s print edition or go to

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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