Butch Otter

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Butch Otter
Governor of Idaho
In office
January 1, 2007 - Present
Term ends
January 5, 2015
Years in position 7
Base salary$115,348
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2, 2010
First electedNovember 7, 2006
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Idaho House of Representatives
1972 - 1976
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
1987 - 2001
U.S. House of Representatives
2001 - 2007
Bachelor'sAlbertson College of Idaho
BirthdayMay 3, 1942
Place of birthCaldwell, Idaho
ReligionRoman Catholic
Office website
Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter (b. May 3 1942, Caldwell, Idaho) has been Governor of Idaho since January 2007. He successfully ran for re-election in 2010 and has already announced he will seek a third term in 2014, silencing speculation that his current term would be his last.[1]

Otter previously represented the state's First Congressional District. He was also Lieutenant Governor of Idaho from 1987 to 2001. He is the first Idahoan since statehood to win election as both United States Representative and governor. Otter is the third Roman Catholic to serve as Governor of Idaho, and the first to win election as governor since James H. Hawley in 1910.


Otter was in Caldwell, ID on May 3, 1942. He attended Boise Junior College, now Boise State University, then earned his B.A. in political science from the 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.

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.

Political Career

Governor of Idaho (2006-Present)

Otter was first elected Governor of Idaho in 2006 and won re-election in 2010. 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.

Position on gray wolves

Otter's position on Idaho's endangered gray wolves has generally unnerved environmentalists. He wants to eradicate wolves from his state.

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 are 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.[2]

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."[3]

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar invited Otter, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, and Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal to meet in Denver, CO to discuss management of wolves.

State Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials said the 153 wolves was a minimum count and they needed to add 30 percent to reach more than 200 wolves. An estimated 1,700 wolves reportedly live in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon.[4][5]

On April 19, 2011, Gov. Otter signed a bill that would essentially allow him to declare a disaster due to the state’s wolf population, even as the animals are in the process from being removed the endangered species list.[6]

State land board

The state land board, chaired by Gob. Otter, has clearly identified in multiple reports between 2000 and 2010 that convincing people that state involvement in business is OK is a primary impediment to getting changes made to the Idaho Constitution to allow the state Department of Lands to expand its business activities.

The land board and the Department of Lands started paying Boise public relations expert and GOP operative Mike Tracy, a former aide to Sen. Larry Craig, to help make the case in 2011. The board hired Tracy to serve as a buffer between them and reporters and to spread the a positive view of commercial investment through the media and in visits with beneficiaries of state endowment lands. Tracy will be paid up to $85,000 for the year.[7]

Income tax rates

Rep. Marv Hagedorn submitted a bill for the 2011 session that he says will 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 in at the Capitol in Boise Monday, mentioning Hagedorn by name.

Hagedorn’s bill is 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.[8]

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.

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.


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. [9]



See also: Idaho gubernatorial election, 2010

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


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.[10] 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 52-44% — the closest gubernatorial race since 1995.


Otter has been 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)[11]

Campaign donors

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.[12] Click [show] for more information.


On August 18 2006, he married his longtime girlfriend Lori Easley in Meridian.[13] 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 had come under fire for this from some social conservatives, including Mark Ricks, a former Republican state senator and lieutenant governor.

See also

External links

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