Libertarian is Chenoweth's heir apparent

  • Butch Otter



The man who could succeed Idaho's feisty Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage is in hot water with the Environmental Protection Agency.

C.L. "Butch" Otter says he recently dug weeds, cattails, rusty car bodies and concrete from the border of a pond next to his home to make the pond more hospitable to wildlife. But the EPA says Otter destroyed part of a wetland and wants to fine him $80,000.

"The EPA has declared martial law," says Otter, a four-term lieutenant governor and staunch states' rights libertarian. Otter sounds a lot like Chenoweth, who was elected to three terms. She rhetorically fought the federal government on many fronts, but failed to stop the Clinton roadless initiative or stem the steep decreases in logging on federal lands.

John Freemuth, a senior fellow with the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University, predicts that Otter will run into a similar brick wall.

"Helen was wonderful at saying what she's for, but she never got any legislation passed," Freemuth says. "Butch's statements about states' rights sound like code words for saying we want to return to the old economy of logging, mining and ranching, and that just ain't the way it is anymore."

Nonetheless, in western and northern Idaho, where many rural residents feel "the feds" wield too much control, Otter's tiff with the EPA scores points. He has a healthy lead over his Democratic opponent, Moscow city councilwoman Linda Pall, and has raised more than $65,000 so far, compared to less than $50,000 raised by Pall, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


Copyright © 2000 HCN and Stephen Stuebner

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