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Butch Otter

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Butch Otter
Butch Otter 2013.jpg
Governor of Idaho
In office
January 1, 2007 - Present
Term ends
January 2019
Years in position 8
PredecessorJim Risch (R)
Base salary$119,000
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
First electedNovember 7, 2006
Next generalNovember 6, 2018
Campaign $$4,933,174
Term limitsNone
Prior offices
U.S. House, Idaho, District 1
2001 - 2007
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
1987 - 2001
Idaho House of Representatives
Bachelor'sAlbertson College of Idaho (1967)
Military service
Service/branch116th Armored Cavalry
Service branchIdaho Army National Guard
Years of service1968-1973
Date of birthMay 3, 1942
Place of birthCaldwell, Idaho
ProfessionBusinessman, Rancher
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
Personal website
Campaign website
Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter (b. May 3 1942, Caldwell, Idaho) is the current Republican Governor of Idaho. He was first elected governor on November 7, 2006, and was sworn into office on January 1, 2007. He is the first Idahoan since statehood to win election as both United States Representative and governor, and the first Roman Catholic to win election as governor since James H. Hawley in 1910.[1]

Otter is currently serving his second term as Idaho's chief executive official. He won re-election in 2010 by defeating Democratic challenger Keith Allred in November 2 general election. Otter won re-election again in 2014, and began his third term on January 5, 2015.

Otter official entered the 2014 race in March, a long anticipated move despite rumors the governor had plans to retire upon completing his second gubernatorial term.[2] He secured the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary, and successfully defended his post in the general election, overcoming five opponents, including Democrat A.J. Balukoff.[1][3]

Otter entered public office in 1972, when he was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives. He went on to hold the office of Lieutenant Governor of Idaho for 14 years. Before becoming governor, Otter represented Idaho's 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House from 2001 to 2007.

During his early years as a politician, Otter kept up his long-running affiliation with Simplot International, a potato, livestock and feeding company, from which he gained significant experience as a businessman. He did double duty for years while occupying both private and public sector positions; Otter served as president of Simplot International from 1978-1990, a period which included his final term in the state legislature and part of his first term as Idaho Lieutenant Governor.[4]

An analysis of Republican governors by Nate Silver of the New York Times in April 2013 ranked Otter as the most conservative governor in the country.[5]


Otter was born in Caldwell, Idaho, on May 3, 1942. He attended Boise Junior College, now Boise State University, then earned his B.A. in political science from Albertson College of Idaho in 1967. He served the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Armored Cavalry from 1968 to 1973. He received specialized training at Fort Knox, Kentucky.[1]

Otter's business experience includes spending 30 years with Simplot International, a potato, livestock and feeding operation. He eventually rose to that company's presidency.


  • B.A., political science, Albertson College of Idaho (1967)

Political Career

Governor of Idaho (2006-Present)

Otter was first elected Governor of Idaho in 2006 and won re-election in 2010. He ran for and won election to a third term in 2014.

As governor, Otter is responsible for appointing judges to Idaho state courts. In Idaho, the governor makes a judicial appointment. The nominee holds office for the remainder of the unexpired term. For an up-to-date list of all of Otter's appointees, see Judgepedia's page on his appointments.

GOP vetting plan

In June 2013, Rod Beck, one of Idaho's regional Republican Party Chairmen, proposed an internal party rule change that would only allow candidates on the GOP primary ballot that had been previously approved by party leaders. This plan, as well as another policy change that sought to give penalties to Republican politicians who vote against "Republican ideals," were reportedly created as a response to the recently debated state-based insurance exchange. Several Republicans, including Otter, supported the bill creating the exchange despite disapproval from party leaders. "What I envision is, our local precinct committee people will become more important to legislators than the lobbyists at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, or other Boise-based lobbyists," Beck said in defense of his vetting plan.[6] A number of party members expressed sympathy with Beck's vision and noted examples where "known Democrats" have run as Republicans as a strategic maneuver to sabotage other Republican candidates' chances or to win office themselves.[7]

Otter spoke out against the vetting plan, contending that the local party officials aimed to lead the party in the direction of strict ideology rather than inclusivity.[8] Otter was joined by former Republican Idaho governor Phil Batt in opposing the plan, which was ultimately voted down by the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee.[7]

Health insurance exchange

As Idaho moved to comply with the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act of 2010, Otter supported the creation of an Idaho healthcare exchange instead of leaving the job to the federal exchange. Responding to criticism of his position, Otter's office released a statement on January 18, 2013, listing "myths" attributed to opponents of the state-based exchange and followed by "facts" disproving the myths.[9] The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a free-market think tank critical of the proposed Idaho healthcare exchange, released a response to the governor's fact sheet on January 22, 2013. The Foundation accused Otter of including misinformation in his "facts."[10]

Job creation ranking

In a June 2013 analysis by The Business Journals which ranked 45 of the country's 50 governors by their job creation record, Otter was ranked number 24. The five governors omitted from the analysis all assumed office in 2013. The ranking was based on a comparison of the annual private sector growth rate in all 50 states using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[11][12]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Butch Otter endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [13]

Position on gray wolves

On January 11, 2007, Otter announced his support for a "gray wolf kill," in which all but 100 of Idaho's recently-recovered population would be eradicated, pending the forthcoming U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removal of the wolves' federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. At the rally with about 300 hunters, Otter said, "I'm prepared to bid for that first ticket to shoot a wolf myself," and complained that wolves were rapidly killing elk and other animals essential to Idaho's multimillion-dollar hunting industry. Suzanne Stone, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, said that Otter's proposal confirmed her organization's worst fears: that the governor's move was political and contrary to the principles of biological management.[14]

In August 2010, Otter was critical of a federal judge's decision to put Idaho's wolf population back on the federal endangered species list. "The number of wolves in Idaho today is almost triple the population necessary for delisting throughout all three states," Otter said. "I don’t know why any state would ever allow another reintroduction of a species because the federal government and radical environmentalists simply cannot live up to their word and allow state management."[15][16][17]

On April 19, 2011, Otter signed a bill that would essentially allow him to declare a disaster due to the state’s wolf population, despite the animals being removed from the endangered species list.[18]

Income tax rates

Rep. Marv Hagedorn submitted a bill for the 2011 session that he said would reduce personal and business income taxes in Idaho, lure businesses to the state and ultimately increase overall tax revenues for Idaho. Gov. Otter backed the proposal in his State of the State address, mentioning Hagedorn by name.

Hagedorn’s bill was a 10-year plan that would lower personal and corporate income taxes in the state to a flat 4.9 percent, making it one of the lowest rates in the United States.[19]


In April 2013, Otter issued his first-ever pardons as governor. Otter signed pardon orders for two men, Eric Robert Hinckley and Robert Frank Thornton, who were convicted of selling drugs to undercover officers. By the time Otter pardoned them, they had served their time, paid all restitution and fines, exceeded their terms of parole and been productive citizens for years.[20]

U.S. Congress (2001-2006)

First District Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage had promised to serve only three terms in the House when first elected in the Republican wave of 1994, and kept that pledge in 2000 even after calling term limits bad policy. Otter entered the Republican primary, and immediately became the favorite due to his name recognition as lieutenant governor. He won handily, and breezed to victory in November. He was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 with no substantive opposition.

In Congress, Otter was largely conservative with a slight libertarian streak, as reflected in his opposition to the PATRIOT Act. He was one of three Republicans (along with Bob Ney of Ohio and Ron Paul of Texas) to vote against the act in 2001. He has since changed his views on the PATRIOT Act, and now believes that "much of the USA PATRIOT Act is needed to help protect us in a dangerous age of stateless zealots and mindless violence."

Otter was also very critical of the Bush Administration's domestic spying efforts. He served as a deputy majority whip for most of his time in Congress despite his opposition to many key Bush Administration policies.


During his time in Congress, Otter was evaluated by several politically-oriented organizations. His evaluations by these groups are fairly typical of conservative Republicans:

  • Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 11% by APHA, indicating an anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 10% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 5% by the LCV, indicating anti-environmentalist votes. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 33% by SANE, indicating a mixed record on military issues. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 20% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-ACLU voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 67% by CATO, indicating a pro-free trade voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 71% by NTU, indicating "Satisfactory" on tax votes. (Dec 2003)*
  • Rated 0% by the AFL-CIO, indicating an anti-labor union voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 100% by FAIR, indicating a voting record restricting immigration. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 97% by the US COC, indicating a pro-business voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 92% by the Christian Coalition, indicating a pro-life, anti-gay marriage voting record. (Dec 2003)[21]

Lieutenant Governor of Idaho (1986-2001)

In 1986, Otter returned to politics and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Idaho. He was re-elected in 1990, 1994 and 1998. He served under three different governors, Democrat Cecil Andrus, and Republicans Phil Batt and Dirk Kempthorne. In 1991, when the Idaho Senate was evenly divided between 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats, Otter's tie-breaking votes kept the body under Republican control. Otter left the post midway through his fourth term in 2001 to take his congressional seat. He is the longest-serving lieutenant governor in Idaho history.

Idaho House of Representatives (1972-1978)

Otter's first bid for elective office was in 1972 when he was elected a member of the Idaho House of Representatives from Canyon County. In 1978 Otter ran for Governor of Idaho, but was defeated in the Republican primary by Allan Larsen. Afterwards Otter remained active in the Idaho Republican Party, holding several state and county positions.

On The Issues Vote Match

Butch Otter's Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Otter is a Hard-Core Conservative. Otter received a score of 23 percent on social issues and 96 percent on economic issues.[22]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[23]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Strongly Opposes Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Strongly Opposes
Expand ObamaCare Strongly Opposes Comfortable with same-sex marriage Strongly Opposes
Vouchers for school choice Strongly Favors Keep God in the public sphere Strongly Favors
Absolute right to gun ownership Strongly Favors Human needs over animal rights Favors
Higher taxes on the wealthy Strongly Opposes Stricter punishment reduces crime Neutral
Support & expand free trade Favors Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Strongly Opposes
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Opposes Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Favors
Prioritize green energy Opposes Expand the military Favors
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Strongly Opposes Stay out of Iran Strongly Opposes
Privatize Social Security Strongly Favors Never legalize marijuana Strongly Favors
Note: Information last updated: June 23, 2014.[22] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.



See also: Idaho gubernatorial election, 2014

Otter ran successfully for re-election to a third term as Governor of Idaho in 2014.[24] He won the Republican nomination in the May 20 primary, and defeated five opponents, including Democrat A.J. Balukoff, in the general election on November 4, 2014.


Primary election
Governor of Idaho, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngButch Otter Incumbent 51.4% 79,779
Russell Fulcher 43.6% 67,694
Harley D. Brown 3.3% 5,084
Walt Bayes 1.8% 2,753
Total Votes 155,310
Election Results via Idaho Secretary of State.
General election
Governor of Idaho, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngButch Otter Incumbent 53.5% 235,405
     Democratic A.J. Balukoff 38.6% 169,556
     Libertarian John T. Bujak 4.1% 17,884
     Independent Jill Humble 2% 8,801
     Constitution Steve Pankey 1.2% 5,219
     Independent Pro-Life 0.7% 2,870
     N/A Write-ins 0% 95
Total Votes 439,830
Election Results via Idaho Secretary of State.


See also: Idaho gubernatorial election, 2010

Otter won re-election in the November 2, 2010 general election, defeating Democratic challenger Keith Allred.

Idaho Governor, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngC.L. "Butch" Otter Incumbent 59.1% 267,483
     Democratic Keith Allred 32.9% 148,680
     Independent Jana M. Kemp 5.9% 26,655
     Libertarian Ted Dunlap 1.3% 5,867
     Independent Pro-Life (Marvin Thomas Richardson) 0.9% 3,850
Total Votes 452,535
Election Results via Idaho Secretary of State


On December 15 2004, Otter announced his candidacy for the gubernatorial seat in 2006. Otter defeated three opponents in the May 23 Republican primary and faced Democrat Jerry Brady in the November 6 general election. Brady, the former publisher of The Post Register in Idaho Falls, had run for governor in 2002, losing to incumbent Dirk Kempthorne.

Otter was initially considered an overwhelming favorite, given his popularity and Idaho's strong Republican lean. However, the race was far closer than expected in the last weeks of the campaign. A poll conducted for the Idaho Statesman and Boise ABC affiliate KIVI showed Otter ahead of Brady by only a single point — a statistical dead heat. According to the Statesman, it was the first time in over a decade that the governor's race had not already been decided 10 days prior to the election. State Republican Party chairman Kirk Sullivan told the paper that the race appeared to be closer than normal because of a strong national trend against the Republicans.[25] The Democrats have not held the governorship since 1995, and since 1998 it was usually a foregone conclusion that the Republicans would win.

The Statesman/KIVI poll proved inaccurate, and Otter won the election 52 percent to 44 percent — the closest gubernatorial race since 1995.

Idaho Governor, 2006
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngC.L. "Butch" Otter 52.7% 237,437
     Democratic Jerry M. Brady 44.1% 198,845
     Constitution Marvin Richardson 1.6% 7,309
     Libertarian Ted Dunlap 1.6% 7,241
Total Votes 450,832
Election Results via Idaho Secretary of State

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Otter is available dating back to 1990. Based on available campaign finance records, Otter raised a total of $4,933,174 during that time period. This information was last updated on July 9, 2013.[26]

Butch Otter's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Governor of Idaho Not up for election $232,558
2010 Governor of Idaho Won $1,953,031
2008 Governor of Idaho Not up for election $222,546
2006 Governor of Idaho Won $2,270,327
1998 Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Won $95,562
1996 Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Not up for election $7,994
1994 Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Won $118,778
1992 Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Not up for election $600
1990 Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Won $31,778
Grand Total Raised $4,933,174

1994, 1998, 2006, 2010

Ballotpedia collects information on campaign donors for each year in which a candidate or incumbent is running for election. The following table offers a breakdown of Butch Otter's donors each year.[27] Click [show] for more information.


On August 18 2006, Otter married his longtime girlfriend Lori Easley in Meridian.[28] The two met in 1991 when Easley was Miss Idaho USA. Otter's first marriage was later annulled by the Catholic Church so that he could marry Easley, who is 25 years his junior. Otter came under fire for this from some social conservatives, including Mark Ricks, a former Republican state senator and lieutenant governor.

Recent news

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Butch Otter News Feed

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See also

External links

Suggest a link
U.S. Representative 2001–2007


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Idaho Governor's Office, "About Governor Butch Otter," accessed September 13, 2012
  2. Idaho Reporter, "Otter announces 2014 re-election run," December 15, 2011
  3., "Gov. Butch Otter makes it official, will seek third term in office," March 3, 2014
  4. Project Vote Smart, "Governor Butch Otter's Biography," accessed June 21, 2013
  5. New York Times, "In State Governments, Signs of a Healthier G.O.P.," April 16, 2013
  6. Idaho GOP to consider requiring leaders' OK to run
  7. 7.0 7.1, "GOP Committee Votes Down Proposal Requiring Endorsement for Primary Ballot," June 16, 2013
  8. KTVB, "Otter, Batt join opposition to GOP vetting plan," accessed July 11, 2014
  9. Governor Otter, "Health Insurance Exchange Myths," January 18, 2013
  10. Idaho Freedom Foundation, "Health Insurance Exchange Myths? Here’s the real story," January 22, 2013
  11. The Business Journals, "Governors and jobs: How governors rank for job creation in their states," June 27, 2013
  12. The Business Journals, "How state governors rank on their job-growth record," June 27, 2013
  13. Idaho Statesman, "Otter to pitch for Romney Monday in North Idaho; Paul dribbles out endorsements," March 4, 2012
  14. Western Wolves, "IDAHO'S WOLF HUNT IS ON," 2009
  15. Idaho Reporter, "Idaho solons deride wolf de-listing, say the state can manage its own affairs," August 6, 2010
  16. Montana Watchdog, "3 Western governors asked to discuss wolves with feds," 'November 26, 2010
  17. Idaho Reporter, "Western governors could ask Congress to settle the wolves issue," November 30th, 2010
  18. "Backer of wolf disaster declaration bill says measure still necessary despite de-listing," Idaho Reporter, April 21, 2011
  19. Idaho Reporter, "Bill to reduce Idaho’s income tax rates to 4.9 percent has Otter’s blessing," January 10th, 2011
  20. Spokesman Review, "Otter signs first two pardons as governor, both for first-time drug sale offenders," May 6, 2013
  21. Issues 2000
  22. 22.0 22.1 On The Issues, "Butch Otter Vote Match," accessed June 23, 2014
  23. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  24. Idaho Reporter, "Otter announces 2014 re-election run," December 15, 2011
  25. Idaho Statesman
  26. Follow the Money, "Career fundraising for C. L. (Butch) Otter," accessed July 9, 2013
  27. Follow the, "Home," accessed February 17, 2015
  28. Associated Press, "Otter and Easley Exchange Vows," August 18, 2006
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Risch (R)
Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Preceded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Idaho House of Representatives
Succeeded by