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Sen. Lodge represents transition in Idaho

Dan Popkey
February 13, 2013
Idaho Statesman

It's no surprise that the rejection of Joan Hurlock, Republican Gov. Butch Otter's nominee to the Idaho Fish & Game Commission, included a hint of the urban-rural divisions that have long defined Idaho politics.

Of the nine Senate Republicans who supported Hurlock in a losing 19-16 vote Monday, seven represent significant urban constituencies: Dan Johnson of Lewiston, Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Todd Lakey of Nampa, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston, Fred Martin of Boise, Jim Patrick of Twin Falls and Jim Rice of Caldwell. Keough represents a largely rural district, but Sandpoint is a fashionable resort and retirement town.

They backed the leader of their party's appointee, despite her casual relationship with hunting and fishing. Nineteen Republicans opposed Hurlock. All seven Democrats, who represent city-dominated districts, voted for her.

The two Republicans who supported Hurlock and represent largely rural districts were her floor manager, Bert Brackett of Rogerson, who ranches in Southern Idaho and Nevada, and John Tippets of Montpelier.

The Hurlock nomination became a proxy for a cultural shift that can seem threatening to rural interests that have long held sway.

"They're not a hunting family," said Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, capsulizing the us-vs.-them sentiment on Hurlock, who moved to Buhl a decade ago from California, where her father was a game warden.

Though Hurlock lost, Otter's decision to fight for her nomination is yet another sign of change in a state where cities are growing far faster than rural precincts and folks born outside Idaho outnumber the native-born.

Perhaps the best example in the Senate is Lodge, a seven-term lawmaker who moved to Idaho at age 4 from Pennsylvania, when her father won a football scholarship at the College of Idaho.

Lodge is deeply connected to the GOP establishment. Her husband, Edward, also played at C of I and was a state court judge for 26 years. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush nominated him as a federal judge, a post he continues to hold. Their son, Ed, is a lobbyist for CenturyLink.

Sen. Lodge grew up in one of those hunting families. "There was a shotgun in every corner," she said during debate. "My brother had a gun in his hands from the time he could just barely walk."

But Lodge then made what might seem a dangerous admission: She's given up hunting. She likes to see deer, quail, pheasants, ducks and geese roaming her land on Sunny-slope near the Snake River - without wanting to shoot them.

Lodge's brother, former Liquor Dispensary Director Dyke Nally, chaired Otter's eight-member committee that interviewed seven commissioner candidates. The panel ranked Hurlock in a tie for first. Nally, Lodge said, raised 150 chukar chicks last year, releasing them in an orchard owned by the siblings.

Lodge had a reminder for those she called the "great white hunters": Many citizens see critters as more than meat on the run.

"Remember, that wildlife belongs to all of Idaho," she said.

Others objected to disqualifying Hurlock for nonmembership in the Hook-and-Bullet Club.

Said Patrick: "I think of her as a breath of fresh air in being a little different."

Rice responded to Sen. Jeff Siddoway, a Republican rancher from Terreton. Siddoway had said Hurlock was intelligent, well-informed and a quick study, but lacked the "passion" for hunting necessary for the seven-member commission.

Rice described an acquaintance so passionate about hunting that a judge imposed a lifetime ban because of the man's repeated offenses. "That (passion) is not the basis upon which we appoint commissioners," Rice said.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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