BOISE — Republican Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on Wednesday described his friendship with former U.S. Interior Secretary and Democratic Gov. Cecil D. Andrus as like that of a political odd couple at an event honoring Andrus, who died last week, at the Idaho Statehouse.
“A lot of folks now in Washington, D.C. and right here in this building could take a lesson from Cecil Andrus,” Otter said, pausing briefly as he composed himself. “We were fortunate to call him an Idahoan. I was blessed to call him my friend.”
The 85-year-old Andrus died last Thursday of complications from lung cancer. His final term as governor ended in 1995 and he was the last the last Democrat to hold the top state political job in heavily Republican Idaho.
Family, friends and Idaho’s top politicians — as well as crowds who admired Andrus from afar — stood by silently to honor the state’s longest serving governor’s final trip to the Idaho Capitol.
Otter was the first to speak during the lying-in-state ceremony, focusing on his first term as Idaho’s lieutenant governor when Andrus was in his second term as governor.
“People who knew me from my maverick days in the Legislature a decade earlier figured there would be quite a train wreck,” Otter said. “And it’s true, we had our differences ... But while we disagreed, there was no train wreck.”
Former Gov. Phil Batt and Boise Mayor David Bieter also praised Andrus’ lasting legacy.
Andrus resigned midway through his second term as Idaho governor in 1977 to become President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of the Interior Department and served until Carter’s term ended in 1981. He then was elected governor two more times, becoming the first four-term governor in Idaho history.
People can pass by Andrus’ casket starting Wednesday in the Idaho Statehouse until Thursday afternoon. A public memorial service will be held at Boise State University on Thursday at 2 p.m.