Election Central

Patterson’s seat to be vacant as Legislature opens

Boise GOP Rep. Mark Patterson’s decision to resign 12 hours before the 2014 Legislature convenes guarantees his seat will be vacant for a period not to exceed 30 days. Such a lengthy vacancy is unlikely, however, and West Boise citizens will probably have full representation by the Legislature’s second week.

The District 15 Republican Committee voted Dec. 19 to urge Patterson, 61, to quit following November’s revelation of his 1974 guilty plea to assault with intent to commit rape. The next day Patterson gave up on his hopes to complete his term, telling Gov. Butch Otter he would quit. But Patterson’s Dec. 20 resignation letter delayed his departure until midnight Jan. 5. The Legislature convenes at noon Jan. 6, when it will hear Otter’s State of the State and Budget Address.

The District 15 GOP Committee set a Dec. 27 meeting to consider nominees to replace Patterson, hoping to get names to Otter in time to have the seat filled Jan. 6. But Otter’s office reviewed Idaho Code 59-904A and informed the committee they would have to wait until after Patterson’s resignation and the meeting was cancelled.

“Our interpretation of the statute is the vacancy must occur before the process can begin,” said Otter spokesman Jon Hanian on Monday.

The vacancy provision gives the committee 15 days to provide names to Otter and Otter another 15 days to act. Both the committee and Otter want to move swiftly.

“We’re prepared to fill that seat as quickly as they can make the nominations, but we’re going to do it by the book,” Hanian said.

GOP Sen. Fred Martin, a member of the District 15 Committee, said the group hopes to meet Jan. 9 or 10 to make nominations to Otter. Barring some unexpected hurdle, that makes it likely Otter will make the appointment by Jan. 13, when the Legislature begins its second week.

Patterson will receive his last full biweekly paycheck for a gross of $632.23 on Jan. 3. On Jan. 17, he will receive a check for a pro-rated amount covering his final days in office. Lawmakers are paid $16,438 annually.


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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