Discussing charges against GOP Sen. Craig, Caplis falsely claimed that Idaho has elected only one Democratic senator

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

During an August 28 conversation about the controversy surrounding the arrest of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), 630 KHOW-AM co-host Dan Caplis made the false claim that Idaho has "elected one Democrat in what, a hundred and fifty years." However, Senate records show that Idaho has elected six Democratic senators during its 117 years of statehood.

Discussing the potential ramifications of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig's (R-ID) June 11 arrest during an investigation of "lewd conduct" in a men's public restroom at a Minnesota airport, 630 KHOW-AM co-host Dan Caplis stated on his August 28 broadcast, "Idaho isn't gonna lose its Republican senate seat; they're going to elect a Republican." Caplis later asserted that Idaho has "elected one Democrat in what, a hundred and fifty years." In fact, while Idaho achieved statehood in 1890 -- 117 years ago -- it has elected six Democrats to the U.S. Senate, including the state's second-longest serving member, Frank Forrester Church.

As Roll Call reported on August 27, Craig was arrested on June 11 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd conduct in a restroom. Craig pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct on August 8 in the Hennepin County District Court, paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and was given one year of probation.

Referring to the possibility that Craig might attempt to change his plea, Caplis said, "The guy pled guilty. Case closed," adding, "[O]nce he pleads guilty to an offense like this, if he truly cares about the country, about Idaho -- the control of the U.S. Senate is at stake." Caplis continued, "Idaho isn't gonna lose its Republican senate seat ... but in terms of ... the control ... they've elected one Democrat in what, a hundred and fifty years ... and then they threw him out of office."

Contrary to Caplis' assertion, since 1890, nine Democrats from Idaho have served in the U.S. Senate, according to the Senate's website. According to Craig's official website, six of those Democratic senators were elected and three were appointed. Sen. Fred T. Dubois was elected by the Idaho state legislature as a Republican in 1901, but switched his affiliation to Democrat shortly thereafter. The six Democrats elected by popular vote were:

John F. Nugent: 1918 -- 1921

James P. Pope: 1933 -- 1939

D. Worth Clark: 1939 -- 1945

Glen H. Taylor: 1945 -- 1951

Bert H. Miller: 1949 -- 1949

Frank F. Church: 1957 -- 1981

As noted on the Senate's website, Church served 24 years in the Senate, making him the second-longest serving member from Idaho.

From the August 28 broadcast of 630 KHOW-AM's The Caplis & Silverman Show:

CRAIG SILVERMAN (co-host): Do I think he probably did somethin' wrong in the Minneapolis Airport bathroom and that he, he wanted to have some kind of gay encounter behind a stall and -- I think he probably did. Is it provable beyond a reasonable doubt? I don't know; I, I think it might fall a little short. Of course, he removed the doubt by pleading guilty himself to disturbing the peace. Now he's going to get a lawyer, and since I'm in the business, I'm thinking, "Wow, is it possible that they're going to move for a new trial?" And maybe the prosecutor there will say, "You want your trial, you've got your trial." What a -- what an event that would be.

CAPLIS: The guy pled guilty. Case closed. If the guy had not pled guilty and was maintaining his innocence, then you have a different story. Nobody smart enough to spell the word "senator" could think that you could keep this quiet forever. A U.S. senator pleading guilty to anything, let alone a sex-related charge initially -- the guy pled guilty. To me, that's the bottom line on it. And once he pleads guilty to an offense like this, if he truly cares about the country, about Idaho -- the control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. Idaho isn't gonna lose its Republican senate seat; they're going to elect a Republican, but in terms of --

SILVERMAN: They are?

CAPLIS: -- of the control -- oh, yes. In terms of the -- they've elected one Democrat in what, a hundred and fifty years, and then they --

SILVERMAN: Montana?

CAPLIS: And then they threw -- Idaho -- and then they threw him out of office.

SILVERMAN: Next door.

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