Butch Otter will be remembered for a lot of things. A successful businessman turned seasoned politician, Otter has left his mark on the Gem State. The three-term Governor says goodbye to the Idaho Statehouse statehouse in January. Don Nelson sat down with Otter to talk about friends, family, and life after politics.
Sitting in the ceremonial office, Otter says that this is the first job in 76 years where he still can have fun. And why not, Otter never was really challenged during three campaigns for Governor. A sign he had the approval of his fellow Idahoans. Maybe that's something he has always sought as he moved from town to town as a child. His dad, an electrician by trade, would finish one job and move on to the next. Otters jokes when he says, "I used to tell my dad, and sometimes complain to my dad, I think you move every time the rents due."
All kidding aside, Butch's nomadic childhood would prove to be beneficial later in life. "Quite frankly Don, when you lose old friends and you have to make new friends and you're the new kid on the block, there's a pecking order. You have to make those new friends, so it's a broadening experience." Like traveling around the world representing Simplot International. Otter says, "Mr. Simplot gave me a lot of opportunities."
Opportunities that lead him into politics, first in the Statehouse, then to the Lt. Governor's office. As a matter of fact, Governor Otter fondly remembers the day his father stood with him as he was sworn in as Lt. Governor in 1986. Otter explains, "In fact when he was introducing me to the Chief Justice to take the oath of office he said he is prepared to take the oath of office for Governor of the state and Cece was sitting there. Whoa, what's this, and the crowd laughed and thought it was funny." Cece being Governor Andrus, one of three Governors Otter served as Lt.Governor. Andrus and Simplot, two men who had a huge influence on Otter. But there were others. "Phil Batt was a big mentor of mine, in fact, I can't remember a time when one of those people, the Joe Alberston, Harry Morrison all those giants of the industry but also the giants in the political world and from time to time I find it's time to turn to my priest." Butch was also quick to remind me of what his wife Miss Lori has meant to him personally and professionally.
So about politics today? Otter believes Washington has changed since he served as a Congressman fifteen years ago. "It was frustrating to me when almost every debate began it wasn't personal as it is today there's almost like a schoolyard brawl back there short of throwing fists and maybe that happens sometimes back there as well."
There will be no more political fights, only thoughts of how he can still contribute. For now, though, this cowboy from Star will be happy kicking back on the porch and watching a few glorious sunsets. "Maybe I was born in the wrong century, that has been suggested to me from time to time."