Friday, November 7, 2008

Mr. Risch heads to Washington


BOISE— Republican Jim Risch knocked off Democrat and familiar political rival Larry LaRocco one more time, this time claiming title to the U.S. Senate seat held by outgoing Republican Larry Craig.

Unofficial results, which included record totals of early voting, show Risch leading with 57.6 percent of the vote, outpacing LaRocco with 34.1 percent and three other third-party candidates, with 93 percent of precincts reporting.

Risch, 64, currently serving his second term as Idaho's lieutenant governor, has now beaten LaRocco, 62, three times since they first tussled in a statehouse race in 1982. Risch also bested LaRocco two years ago in the race for lieutenant governor.

"A big win, big win," Risch told The Associated Press. "It's particularly gratifying because every time he (LaRocco) runs against me, he makes it a referendum on my public service. So when you win this big it's particularly gratifying."

LaRocco, a former lobbyist who also served two terms in the U.S. House, conceded the race just before midnight Tuesday.

"It's an insurmountable lead," LaRocco told supporters. "I knew it was going to be a tough fight. But we will move from here. Don't give up. We need the balance, the oversight and the accountability and balance the Democrats can bring to the state of Idaho.

Risch will take the seat in January after the retirement of Craig, who decided last year not to seek a fourth term after his arrest in an airport men's room gay sex sting.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said the process of naming a new lieutenant governor to take over for Risch had already started.

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