Vote against Fish & Game’s Hurlock reveals rural-urban divide in Idaho GOP

It’s no surprise that Monday’s Senate’s rebuke of GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s Fish & Game Commissioner Joan Hurlock included a hint of the urban-rural divisions that have long defined Idaho politics.

Of the nine Republicans who supported Hurlock in a losing 19-16 vote, seven represent significant urban constituencies: Dan Johnson of Lewiston, Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Todd Lakey of Nampa, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston (Canyon County), Fred Martin of Boise, Jim Patrick of Twin Falls and Jim Rice of Caldwell. (Keough, it should be noted, represents a largely rural district, but Sandpoint is a fashionable resort and retirement city.)

They backed their governor’s appointee, despite her casual relationship with hunting and fishing.

Lodge made what some might see as a dangerous admission: She’s given up hunting, and likes to see deer, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese roaming her land on Sunnyslope near the Snake River. She added a reminder for what she called the “great white hunters”: many citizens see critters as more than just meat.

“Remember, that wildlife belongs to all of Idaho,” Lodge said.

Said Patrick: “I think of her as a breath of fresh air in being a little different.”

Rice responded to Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton, a leader of the anti-Hurlock faction, who argued Hurlock lacked the required “passion” for hunting to serve on the seven-member commission.

Rice described an acquaintance who is so passionate about hunting that a judge imposed a lifetime hunting ban because of the man’s repeated offenses. “That (passion) is not the basis upon which we appoint commissioners,” Rice said.

The two Republicans who supported Hurlock and represent largely rural districts were her floor manager, Bert Brackett of Rogerson, who ranches in Southern Idaho and Nevada, and John Tippets of Montpelier in the far Southeast corner of Idaho.

Nineteen of the Senate’s 28 Republicans voted against Hurlock.





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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