November 21, 2014

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Craig resigns; successor to be named

BOISE, Idaho — After a week filled with scandalous headlines and ribald late-night TV humor at the expense of one of their own, Republican leaders got what they wanted Saturday: The resignation of Idaho Sen. Larry Craig.

AP
Idaho Sen. Larry Craig announces his resignation from the U.S. Senate in downtown Boise.

“Senator Craig made the right decision for himself, for his family, his constituents and the United States Senate,” said White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

One of Craig’s harshest critics, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Craig “made a difficult decision, but the right one.”

While saying nothing about his abandonment by national GOP leaders, Craig made a point of thanking the Idaho politicians who stood with him Saturday with a historic Boise train station as a backdrop.

“For any public official at this moment in time to be standing with Larry Craig is in itself a humbling experience,” Craig said.

And he signaled his determination to continue fighting for his name, hiring a Washington lawyer who represented At-lanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in his dogfighting case.

“I have little control over what people choose to believe, but clearly my name is important to me,” said Craig.

“I apologize for what I have caused,” Craig said, his wife Suzanne and two of their three children at his side. “I am deeply sorry.”

Craig, 62, said he would resign effective Sept. 30, ending a career in Congress spanning a quarter-century.

Making no specific mention of the incident that triggered his disgrace in his remarks, he spoke for less than six minutes and took no questions.

“The people of Idaho deserve a senator who can devote 100 percent of his time and effort to the critical issues of our state and of our nation,” Craig said.

Among those attending was Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who will appoint a successor for the remaining
15 months of Craig’s term.

It was a relatively quick end to a drama that began Monday with the stunning disclosure that Craig had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge following his arrest June 11 in a Minneapolis airport men’s room.

Craig at first tried to hold on to his position, contending in a public appearance on Tuesday that he had done nothing inappropriate and that his only mistake was pleading guilty Aug. 1 to the misdemeanor charge. But a growing chorus of leading GOP leaders called for him to step down to spare the party further embarrassment and possible harm in next year’s elections.

Otter said Saturday he has not chosen a replacement, although several Republicans familiar with internal deliberations said he favored Republican Lt. Gov. Jim Risch.

Otter called speculation that he has made a choice “dead wrong” and declined to say when he would fill the seat.

Craig said he would remain in the Senate until Sept. 30 in hopes of providing a smooth transition for his staff and whoever is chosen as his successor.