Current Affairs

13 candidates contend ‘cruising’ Senator’s seat

Ann Turner March 26, 2008
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Republican Senator Larry Craig is keeping his promise not to run for re-election after a media firestorm erupted last year over his alleged solicitation of a male police officer in an airport bathroom.

Craig has repeatedly denied he solicited the officer and publicly proclaimed he is not gay.

Although Craig refused to resign his post over the scandal, he promised in September that he would not run for re-election.

Craig was arrested last year after allegedly soliciting an undercover male police officer for sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St Paul International airport.

Police had been working a sting operation at the airport targeting men having sex in the restrooms.

According to a report by, Craig was accused of taking a bathroom stall next to airport police officer Sgt. Dave Karsnia, tapping the officer’s foot, waving his hand under the stall divider and making other movements that indicated he wanted sex.

The Idaho Senator was originally charged with lewd conduct after his arrest, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disorderly conduct.

Craig entered his guilty plea by mail and was given a ten day suspended sentence and a $575 (£287) fine.

At a press conference in September, Craig said “I am not gay. I have never been gay”, but stated he would resign from his office by the end of the month due to the scandal.

However, Craig later changed his mind and decided to fight the charges against him and finish his current term in the Senate.

Craig attempted to rescind his guilty plea in the case, claiming that he only pled guilty as a ‘panic reaction’ and he had feared the negative publicity if the case had gone to court.

Craig’s lawyers argued that the senator had been pushed into making a plea without the presence of an attorney.

However, prosecutor Christopher Renz argued that Craig was fully informed of his rights and was encouraged to seek the advice of his lawyers, but choose not to do so.

Craig’s attempt to revoke his guilty plea was denied in October.

Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter stated in his ruling that “because the defendant’s plea was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence, the defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea is denied,” according to a report by the Associated Press.

“The defendant, a career politician with a college education, is of at least above average intelligence. He knew what he was saying, reading and signing,” Judge Porter stated.

Following up on his vow to state out of the race in November, Craig did not file for re-election by the deadline in Idaho on Friday.

Thirteen candidates have applied to compete for Craig’s Senate seat, including Republican Lt Governor Jim Risch, whom Craig has endorsed.

Seven other Republicans, two Democrats, two Independent candidates and a Libertarian have filed for the seat.

Idaho Republican Party spokesman Sid Smith told the Washington Times that he hopes the candidates for Craig’s seat will refrain from delving into the scandal.

“I’m hopeful that the candidates on both sides will be sticking to the issues that are relevant to the race and the issues that Idahoans want,” Smith said.

Craig is still engaged in a legal battle to have his guilty plea overturned in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

© 2008; All Rights Reserved.

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