BOISE — Longtime state Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis was nominated Thursday by the administration of President Donald Trump to serve as the new U.S. Attorney for the District of Idaho.
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch announced the nomination on Twitter. In a statement, he called the Republican Davis “a committed public servant who has my full confidence” and said he would work with other senators to confirm Davis quickly.
Davis is a 10-term senator from Idaho Falls with a private legal practice focusing on corporate litigation, bankruptcy and real estate law. He’s served as majority leader for 15 years, and if he is confirmed as U.S. Attorney it would open up this position and could lead to reshuffling elsewhere should someone who currently holds another leadership position seek it.
“There will be a change and he’s going to be a great choice for U.S. Attorney,” said Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls.
Davis declined to comment, saying he had been asked to refer any inquiries to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Idaho attorney was one of nine U.S. Attorney nominees announced by the White House on Thursday.
The previous U.S. Attorney for Idaho, Wendy Olson, resigned in February and joined a Boise law firm. Olson’s first assistant U.S. attorney Rafael Gonzalez has served as acting U.S. attorney since her departure.
The next-highest members of Senate GOP leadership after Davis are Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, and Majority Caucus Chairman Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, and if either of them were to get elected to Davis’s spot, their positions would then be open. The Senate plans to vote on Davis’s replacement in January, said Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. All these posts are chosen by the members voting, and seniority doesn’t guarantee anyone a spot.
“It’s up for anybody in the Senate if there’s a vacancy in leadership,” said Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls.
Heider, who leads the Health and Welfare Committee now, said he has had some of his colleagues encourage him to run for another leadership post and has also been contacted by colleagues looking for support if they run for majority leader. He said he would wait and see what happens but seemed to be leaning against running for that job himself.
“I’m really happy where I am,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll throw my hat in the ring.”
Patrick, who is chairman of the Commerce and Human Resources Committee, said he would likely stay in his current role.
Davis’ experience has allowed him to serve as a stabilizing force within the Idaho Senate, often wielding the rules of parliamentary procedure to keep political antics from getting out of hand. Heider praised Davis’s command of the Senate’s rules, and said he wasn’t sure if anyone would be able to fill his shoes.
“He’s well spoken,” Heider said. “He’s very educated. He’s an attorney. He understand the process. He knows the rules.”
Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, said the Senate would be different without him.
“Senator Davis was literally an institution there … and he will be missed,” Brackett said. “(But) nobody is irreplaceable, and we’ll put a new team together and go forward.”
Brackett, who chairs Senate Transportation, also said he doesn’t intend to run for majority leader, but looks forward to seeing how things shake out.
“We have some really good prospects, so we’ve got a good strong bench,” he said.