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Clement Leroy "Butch" Otter (born May 3, 1942) is an American businessman and politician who served as the 32nd governor of Idaho from 2007 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he was elected in 2006, and reelected in 2010, and 2014. Otter served as lieutenant governor from 1987 to 2001 and in U.S. Congress from the first district from 2001 to 2007.

When he left office, Otter was the longest-serving governor in the United States whose time in office had run consecutively, at 12 years. His election win in 2014 was his third consecutive victory.

|terms=January 3, 2001 – January 1, 2007
|preceded=Helen Chenoweth-Hage
|succeeded=Bill Sali

}} Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter (born May 3, 1942 in Caldwell, Idaho) is the current Governor of Idaho and a member of the Republican Party. Previously he served as a U.S. Representative from Idaho's first congressional district from 2001 through 2007 and Lieutenant Governor from 1987 through 2001. He is a graduate from St. Teresa’s Academy and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the College of Idaho in 1967 and later was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of the Philippines and the College of Idaho in Caldwell. Otter would go on to serve in the Idaho Army National Guard.

Butch Otter spent the next 30 years working in the private sector at Simplot International, a major food production business. He would rise to become Director of the Food Products Division, President of Simplot Livestock, and President of Simplot International. He retired after getting elected Lieutenant Governor and would go on to serve in that office longer than anyone in Idaho history, serving under two Republican governors and one Democrat. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000 and easily reelected in 2002 and 2004. Otter's record was more libertarian than conservative. He voted against the Patriot Act and against terrorist surveillance, while was solidly conservative on economics. <ref></ref> Butch Otter is pro-life, earning a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee. <ref></ref> Additionally he received an A from the National Rifle Association.

In 2006 Otter was elected Governor of Idaho with 53% of the vote.



Idaho Governors Republican Governors

Categories: Retreat Locales: American Redoubt: Idaho

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}} Clement Leroy “Butch” Otter (born May 3, 1942) is the 32nd and current Governor of Idaho since January 2007 and is a member of the Republican Party. Otter previously represented the state's First Congressional District.

Otter was the longest serving Lieutenant Governor of Idaho, holding office from 1987–2001. He is the first Idahoan since statehood to win elections as both a United States Representative and as governor. He is the third Catholic to serve as governor of Idaho and the first to win election since James H. Hawley in 1910.

Early life, education, and business career (1942–1972)

Butch Otter was born into a small family of limited means. His father was a journeyman electrician and the family lived in many rural locations in the Midwest and Western United States during his youth, attending 15 different schools. He graduated from St. Teresa's Academy (now Bishop Kelly High School) in Boise in 1962.

Otter was 20 when he graduated from high school– a childhood accident involving gasoline badly burned his younger brother and forced Otter to take a year off. Otter worked throughout high school as a janitor, theater ticket taker, and lawn boy. “My dad graduated from high school. My expectations weren't built beyond being a good electrician or carpenter.” Otter briefly attended St. Martin's Abbey in Lacey, Washington, with an aim to becoming a priest. He attended the school primarily because of his father's opinion that “unless you were going to be a priest, you didn't need to go beyond high school.”

Deciding against the priesthood, Otter returned to Idaho and attended Boise Junior College, then earned his B.A. in political science from the College of Idaho in 1967. He was the only member of his family to graduate from college, and made the dean's list in his last term. He served in the Idaho Army National Guard's 116th Armored Cavalry from 1968–73. He received specialized training at Fort Knox. His business experience includes 30 years with Simplot International, a leading agribusiness corporation. He started at a low-level position and eventually rose to the company's presidency.

Early political career (1972–1986)

Idaho legislature

His first bid for elective office was in 1972 when he was elected a member of the Idaho State House of Representatives from Canyon County. He was re-elected in 1974 and 1976.

1978 gubernatorial election

In January 1977, incumbent Democrat Governor Cecil Andrus was appointed U.S. Secretary of Interior under President Jimmy Carter. Lieutenant governor John Evans, a Democrat, succeeded Andrus and Otter announced in June his intention to run for Governor of Idaho in 1978.<ref name=simxsk>

</ref> In the six-man Republican primary in August, Otter ranked a close third with 26.0% of the vote. Allan Larsen, the House Speaker from Blackfoot, won the nomination with 28.7% of the vote, followed by Vern Ravenscroft of Tuttle, with 27.6%.<ref></ref><ref name=igopgub78>

</ref><ref name=luprvn>

</ref> The nominees of both parties were Mormon, marking the first time in state history one would be elected governor.<ref name=luprvn/> Incumbent Evans was unopposed in the Democratic primary and won the general election in November, the third of six consecutive victories by Democrats.

State politics

After losing the gubernatorial primary, he was on the Idaho Republican Party Central Committee and was Chairman of the Canyon County Republican Party.<ref></ref>

Reagan administration

After Republican Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980, he appointed Otter to the administration's Task Force on International Private Enterprise, the World Bank's Agricultural Advisory Committee, and the Center for International Private Enterprise.

Lieutenant Governor of Idaho (1986–2000)

In 1986, Otter returned to politics and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Idaho. He was reelected in 1990, 1994, and 1998. He served under three different governors, Democrat Cecil Andrus, and Republicans Phil Batt and Dirk Kempthorne. In 1991, when the Idaho Senate was evenly divided between 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats, Otter's tie-breaking votes kept the body under GOP control. Otter left the post midway through his fourth term in 2001 to take his Congressional seat. He is the longest-serving lieutenant governor in Idaho history.

U.S. House of Representatives (2000–2006)


U.S. Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth-Hage of Idaho's First Congressional District had promised to serve only three terms in the House when first elected in the Republican wave of 1994, and kept that pledge in 2000 even after calling term limits bad policy. Otter entered the Republican primary, and immediately became the favorite due to his name recognition as lieutenant governor. He won handily, and breezed to victory in November. He was re-elected in 2002 and 2004 with no substantive opposition.


In Congress, Otter was largely conservative with a slight libertarian streak, as reflected in his opposition to the Patriot Act. He was one of three Republicans (along with Bob Ney of Ohio and Ron Paul of Texas) to vote against the act in 2001. He has since stated that “much of the USA PATRIOT Act is needed to help protect us in a dangerous age of stateless zealots and mindless violence”. Otter was also very critical of the Bush Administration's terrorist surveillance program concerning communications from within the United States to those outside the United States. He served as a deputy majority whip for most of his time in Congress.

Otter is pro-life and has voted to ban federal funding of abortions and opposes partial-birth abortions. He also supports parental consent laws for minors who seek an abortion. He supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between “one man and one woman.” He has voted for establishing a nationwide AMBER alert system for missing children. He has been a strong advocate for second amendment rights and opposes federal restrictions on gun sales.<ref>


On economic issues, he has voted for a 2001 bankruptcy overhaul requiring partial debt repayment. He supports a balanced budget amendment to the US constitution and supports broad based tax cuts including eliminating the estate and marriage tax. He has voted to reduce the marriage tax by $399B over 10 years. He has supported expanding free trade agreements with nations such as Singapore and Chile. He has also voted for medical malpractice and tort reform. He has voted to allow importation of prescription drugs and has supported small business associations to reduce health insurance costs via collaborative efforts. Otter has voted to end offshore tax havens and promote tax credits for small businesses. He has voted to raise 401(k) limits & making pension plans more portable.

He has voted to build a fence along the Mexican border and has opposed granting amnesty to illegal aliens.

Otter has voted against allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. He has supported military recruitment efforts on college campuses and has voted for adopting the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. He opposes a time table for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was elected to the leadership position of Assistant Majority Whip.

Committee assignments

Leadership in International Trade

Otter published an article in The Ripon Forum magazine. In the article, Otter discussed that he had led many trade missions to Asia-Pacific countries, fostering relationships with companies in Seoul, Taipei, Taiwan and Ho Chi Minh City. Otter brought a delegation to Taiwan than resulted in Idaho’s Micron Technology becoming Taiwan’s largest direct U.S. investor.<ref>


Governor of Idaho (2007–present)

2006 election

On December 15 Otter announced his candidacy for the gubernatorial seat in 2006. Otter won the May Republican primary with 70% of the vote, defeating three opponents.<ref></ref>

In the general election, he faced Democrat Jerry Brady in the November 7 general election. Brady, the former publisher of The Post Register in Idaho Falls, had ran for governor in 2002, losing to incumbent Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne. Otter was initially considered an overwhelming favorite, given his popularity and Idaho's strong Republican lean. However, the race was far closer than expected in the last weeks of the campaign. A poll conducted for the Idaho Statesman and Boise ABC affiliate KIVI showed Otter ahead of Brady by only a single point– a statistical dead heat. According to the Statesman, it was the first time in over a decade that the governor's race has not already been decided 10 days prior to the election. State Republican Party chairman Kirk Sullivan told the paper that the race appeared to be closer than normal because of a strong national trend against the Republicans. Otter pulled away in the final week, and won the election 53%–44%, the closest gubernatorial race since 1994.<ref></ref>

First term

Otter has recommended an increase in Idaho state educational funding by $1.36 billion as well as expanding needs-based scholarships for college-bound students. Otter supports expanding offshore oil drilling and supports tax incentives for development of alternative fuels. He has stated that the US should set a goal of 25% renewable energy by 2025.

On January 11, 2007, Otter announced his support for a “gray wolf kill,” in which all but 100 of Idaho's recently-recovered population would be eradicated, pending the forthcoming U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removal of the wolves' federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. Otter even remarked that he would be first in line to purchase a tag to kill one of the animals.<ref>

</ref> This position drew criticism from many Western environmental and animal advocate groups, including Priscilla Feral, president of Friends of Animals who called for a boycott of potatoes from Idaho.<ref>ESPN Outdoors/Hunting Wolves Or Taters? August 28, 2009</ref>

2010 election

In the Republican primary, he had five opponents file against him. He won re-nomination with just 55% of the vote.<ref></ref> In the general election, he defeated Democratic nominee Keith Allred 59%–33%.<ref></ref>

Second term

He was sworn into his second term on January 7, 2011. In the first State of the State in his second term, he proposed the elimination of teacher tenure, becoming one of the most aggressive governors in the country when it comes to education reform. The Stateline explained that the “Idaho plan is perhaps the most far-reaching effort to use teachers’ rights and performance as part of a bid to revamp a state’s entire educational process.” Critics say that roughly 770 teaching positions would be eliminated and teacher contracts would have to be renegotiated every year, in which bargaining would cover only pay and benefits.<ref></ref> In March 2011, Otter signed two bills into law, one limits the ability of teachers to collectively bargain and eliminates tenure for new teachers. The other allows school districts to pay teachers based on their performance.<ref></ref>

In April 2011, Otter issued an executive order prohibiting Idaho state agencies from implementing the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.<ref>


Personal life

In 1964, Otter married Gay Simplot, daughter of J. R. Simplot. After 28 years of marriage, the couple amicably divorced in 1992. On August 18, 2006, Otter married his longtime girlfriend and former Miss Idaho USA Lori Easley in Meridian.<ref>Associated Press. Otter and Easley Exchange Vows. August 18, 2006</ref>

In August 1992, Otter was pulled over on Interstate 84 near Meridian for suspicion of driving under the influence. He claimed the arresting officer observed him swerving as he was reaching for his cowboy hat, which had been blown off by the wind in his open car. Otter offered several explanations for failing the field sobriety test including: his stocking feet were stung by weeds and gravel, he had run eight miles (13 km) and his knee hurt, he was hungry, and that he had soaked his chewing tobacco in Jack Daniel's. A jury convicted Otter in March 1993 and he was sentenced to 72 hours of community service and 16 hours at an alcohol treatment program.<ref>

</ref> This incident allegedly forced Otter to abandon an anticipated run for governor in 1994 and instead seek re-election for lieutenant governor.<ref>


Electoral history

Idaho Lieutenant Governor: Results 1986–1998
|Year |Democratic |Votes |Pct |Republican |Votes |Pct |3rd Party |Party |Votes |Pct


align=“right” |



align=“right” |



align=center colspan=3|(unopposed)



align=“right” |246,132




align=“right” |191,625




align=“right” |213,009




align=“right” |133,688




align=“right” |225,704



|American Heritage

align=“right” |15,769

align=“right” |4.2%

: Results 2000–2004

|Year |Democratic |Votes |Pct |Republican |Votes |Pct |3rd Party |Party |Votes |Pct |3rd Party |Party |Votes |Pct


align=“right” |84,080



align=“right” |173,743




align=“right” |6,093

align=“right” |2.3%



align=“right” |4,200

align=“right” |1.6%



align=“right” |80,269




align=“right” |120,743




align=“right” |5,129

align=“right” |2.5%



align=“right” |90,927




align=“right” |207,662


1942 births American libertarians American Roman Catholics College of Idaho alumni Governors of Idaho Idaho Republicans Lieutenant Governors of Idaho Living people Members of the Idaho House of Representatives Members of the United States House of Representatives from Idaho People from Boise, Idaho People from Caldwell, Idaho Republican Party state governors of the United States

butch_otter.txt · Last modified: 2020/03/12 18:32 (external edit)

Idaho Governor: Results 2006–2010
|Year |Democratic |Votes |Pct |Republican |Votes |Pct |3rd Party |Party |Votes |Pct |3rd Party |Party |Votes |Pct

|Jerry Brady

align=“right” |198,845



align=“right” |237,437




align=“right” |7,309

align=“right” |1.6%



align=“right” |7,241

align=“right” |1.6%


|Keith G. Allred

align=“right” |148,680




align=“right” |267,483


|Jana Kemp


align=“right” |26,655

align=“right” |5.9%

|Ted Dunlap


align=“right” |5,867

align=“right” |1.3%


==External links==

;U.S. Representative 2001–2007