Friday, March 19, 2010

State Sen. Clint Stennett to retire

Wife Michelle Stennett files to run for District 25 Senate seat

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum resident Clint Stennett is stepping down from service in the Idaho Senate. His wife, Michelle, plans to run for his longtime seat. Photo by Mountain Express

Longtime state Sen. Clint Stennett, D-Ketchum, has reportedly decided to retire from political life so he can continue his recovery from treatment for brain cancer. The news was reported Thursday by The Associated Press.

Calls to Stennett and his wife, Michelle, to confirm the news were not returned by the Express' press deadline Thursday. Meanwhile, the Idaho secretary of state's Web site lists Michelle Stennett as a candidate for the District 25 seat, but not Clint. The filing deadline to run for the seat—which represents Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties—is today at 5 p.m.

Stennett made his pre-political career as owner of an array of Wood River Valley media outlets. In 1990, he was elected to the Idaho House of Representatives, where he served for four years before being elected to the Idaho Senate. Four years into his tenure in the Senate, he was named minority leader.

Stennett was diagnosed with brain cancer nearly two and a half years ago. Intense rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments that followed eventually left him feeling fatigued and unable to serve as District 25 senator.

In January 2009, Stennett announced that he would take time off as leader of the Senate Democrats to rest up from the treatment. Former Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson stood in for him during the 2009 legislative session, the second longest in Idaho history.

Last June, Stennett reported that the treatments had halted the spread of his brain cancer. But in December, he announced that he would miss the start of the 2010 Legislature as he continued to recover. Michelle Stennett stepped in as his temporary replacement.

Last week, Michelle said in an interview that Clint has had a "slight setback" with some swelling in his brain due to past procedures. She said an MRI scheduled for last weekend would be able to provide more details.

The pair left Thursday, March 11, for California, where they have hospital appointments every two months to evaluate Clint's progress. Michelle said their doctor's opinion would play an important role in determining whether Clint would get back into politics this year, and, if not, whether she would undertake a campaign herself.

By Thursday, there was no word about what the MRI test had revealed.

However, as of Thursday, the secretary of state's Web site is listing Michelle as a candidate for the District 25 seat, which comes up for election this November.

The Web site also lists Republican Jim Donoval of Sun Valley and Carey resident Randall K. Patterson of the Constitution Party as candidates for the District 25 senate seat.

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