Craig essentially drops efforts to finish his Senate term, aide says - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Craig essentially drops efforts to finish his Senate term, aide says

By CHARLES BABINGTON
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Larry Craig has all but dropped any notion of trying to complete his term, and is focused on helping Idaho send a new senator to Washington within a few weeks, his top spokesman said Thursday.

"The most likely scenario, by far, is that by October there will be a new senator from Idaho," Craig spokesman Dan Whiting told the Associated Press.

The only circumstances in which Craig might try to complete his term, Whiting said, would require the overturning by Sept. 30 of his conviction for disorderly conduct in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport, as well as Senate GOP leaders' agreement to restore Craig's committee leaderships posts taken away this week.

Those scenarios are unlikely, Whiting said. Craig, a three-term Republican, met Wednesday with Idaho Gov. C.L.

"Butch" Otter, R, to discuss a transition in which Otter would name his Senate replacement, Whiting said. Even if Craig were to complete his term, he said, the senator would not seek re-election in 2008.

Whiting said Craig remains intent on clearing his name through the legal process in Minnesota and by having the Senate ethics committee address his claim that his misdemeanor conviction should not be a matter for action by the panel.

Craig had announced Saturday his intention to resign at the end of the month after a police report alleged he had solicited sex from a male officer at the Minneapolis airport in June.

He then reversed course to challenge the guilty plea he entered in August. Senate Republican leaders strongly urged Craig to step down, making clear they would not support his efforts to complete his term, which ends in early 2009.

The Senate ethics committee this week rebuffed a request by Craig's attorney, Stanley Brand, that it not investigate a complaint against the senator because events were "wholly unrelated" to his official duties.

The panel's leaders said they believe Senate rules give them authority to investigate any "improper conduct, which may reflect upon the Senate."

 A second attorney for Craig was in Minnesota, evidently preparing to file papers seeking to have the senator's guilty plea withdrawn.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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