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BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Craig to resign

August 31, 2007 |  3:51 pm

The Associated Press is reporting out of Boise, Idaho that Sen. Larry Craig has decided to resign his Senate seat and will make the formal announcement Saturday.  It will be welcome news among his party members in Washington and reportedly take effect Sept. 30.

Earlier today, we reported the following on the scandal involving the 62-year-old Republican's arrest in a Minneapolis men's room for lewd conduct: He pled guilty later to disorderly conduct charges and denied that he was gay. But his political support rapidly began evaporating. And it creates more political woes heading into 2008 for Republicans, already laboring under an unpopular war and president and nearly twice as many Senate seats as Democrats to defend in the November 2008 election.

With the exception of Idaho's GOP Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a longtime friend, fellow Republicans rapidly distanced themselves from Craig. This included presidential candidate Mitt Romney, whose campaign Craig was supporting. Several, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, called for his immediate resignation; others, especially those who also face re-election challenges next year, strongly hinted that Craig's departure would be a good thing.

"If I was in a position like that," said Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who heads the Republican Senate campaign committee, "that's what I would do. He's going to have to answer that for himself."

GOP Senate leadership also got Craig's resignation from all committee assignments and sought an ethics committee investigation, though his misdemeanor offense may not violate Senate rules.

Political sources in Idaho, where the three-term Craig has received very little public support, say talks have been held between Craig and Otter, the goal being to name a replacement Republican as soon as possible to get past the scandal and allow another Republican to hold the seat next year in the strongly GOP state. Although Rep. Mike Simpson has been mentioned as a possible replacement, the most likely new nominee would be Lt. Gov. Jim Risch, who served as acting governor for seven months last year when Dirk Kempthorne stepped down to become Interior secretary.

The Times has a news story on the likely resignation on this website and in Saturday's print editions.

--Andrew Malcolm

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