Petitioners urge teacher-in-space Barbara Morgan to run for Idaho superintendent

Seeking a challenger to Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, Idaho Democrats are attempting to draft Barbara Morgan, the former teacher from McCall and astronaut. Morgan is now a distinguished educator in residence at Boise State.

Emily Walton of Boise started an electronic petition Wednesday, writing, “It doesn’t take rocket science to be a good superintendent of schools. But it sure would be a nice contrast to our current superintendent.”

Former Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant floated Morgan’s name, a development reported Wednesday by Boise Weekly.

Morgan didn’t reject the idea, the Weekly reported, but laughed at length. “That’s funny. I really can’t tell you anything, but that’s an interesting rumor.”

Morgan would be a formidable candidate, even as a Democrat in a heavily GOP state. Stanford educated, a former elementary school teacher and as media savvy as they come, Morgan has star power. Were Luna to seek a third term, he must overcome voters’ sound rejection of his Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in November.

Every statewide office and all four seats in Congress have been held by Republicans since Congressman Raul Labrador replaced Walt Minnick in 2011. But Democrats have had success running for superintendent. Marilyn Howard held the job from 1999 to 2007, defeating Luna in 2002.

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.

Posted in Idaho Politics