Montana’s Schweitzer, who has sky high popularity, was in Idaho campaigning for fellow Democrat Jerry Brady who is tied in a recent poll with Butch Otter in the governor’s race (many are skeptical, of course, about such poll results in the reddest state in the country).Schweitzer became the second governor to tell Idaho to ban the controversial facilities. Earlier Wyoming’s Governor Dave Freudenthal sent a letter to Idaho’s Governor Jim Risch with similar concerns. Risch steps down at the end of the year. He became governor when he ascended to the post when Governor Dirk Kempthorne became Secretary of Interior.
Brady has campaigned strongly on public lands issues. On the other hand, Otter introduced a bill in Congress to sell off 15% of the nation’s public lands in the Western States to raise money to deal with Hurricane Katrina. When keeping all of America’s public lands like national forests became very popular in Idaho and the West last winter, Otter withdrew his bill and said he had made a mistake, and sad he now supports public lands. The issue had come to a flashpoint when Richard Pombo of CA and Jim Gibbons of Nevada devised a scheme to allow “mining companies” to stake claims on essentially unlimited swaths of public land, and then privatize them after paying a fee. This is chronicled in my earlier “Congressional land grab page.”
Idaho critics of Freudenthal had pointed out the chronic wasting disease spreads unchecked in Wyoming, but has not been detected in Idaho.