How often does someone from Idaho win an Olympic gold medal? How often do Idaho universities land a $15 million research grant - our state's largest ever - from the National Science Foundation? You'd think such things would be worth a personal high-five from the governor, right? But Butch Otter has repeatedly ceded the spotlight in such recent high-profile media events to Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
As you can see from this media advisory (still posted on the governor's website as of this afternoon and preserved here for posterity; click it to enlarge), Otter was scheduled to attend a press conference last Friday to announce the NSF grant, but he backed out and let Risch do it. And last month when the city of Boise welcomed champion cyclist Kristin Armstrong home from Beijing, it was Risch - not Otter - who joined her on the podium on the state's behalf.
Now everyone knows that lieutenant governor is a largely ceremonial role, and Risch clearly needs something to do, especially since he's passing up most opportunities to debate his opponents. But it seems odd that Otter is consistently having Risch enjoy the best photo ops. It's especially ironic that Risch was asked to hail a grant to study the effects of climate change on the Snake and Salmon River watersheds.
Climate change?! Why, just two years ago when serving as our temporary governor, Risch told the Los Angeles Times he remained unconvinced that global warming is caused by humans. Less than two months before the election, he still hasn't posted anything on his website about where he stands on energy, never mind anything like the detailed plan Larry LaRocco presented on the issue back in spring 2007.
Update: Energy isn't the only issue on which Risch seems to have no position. Check out this side-by-side comparison from the LaRocco campaign on Risch's shocking lack of substance. As of today, Risch has approximately 300 words' worth of policy on his website. LaRocco has more than 2,000 words on energy alone, plus lengthy statements on health care, immigration, veterans, and the war in Iraq.