Sen. Mike Crapo (R)
Elected: 1998, term expires 2010, 2nd term.
Born: May 20, 1951, Idaho Falls .
Home: Idaho Falls.
Education: Brigham Young U., B.A. 1973, Harvard U., J.D. 1977.
Family: Married (Susan); 5 children.
Elected office: ID Senate, 1984–92, Senate ldr., 1988-92; U.S. House of Reps., 1992-98.
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1977–92.
Mike Crapo is a Republican first elected to the House in 1992 and to the Senate in 1998. He grew up in Idaho Falls. His father ran the local post office, and his mother stayed home to care for their six children. The couple also farmed on 200 acres, growing potatoes and grain. Crapo (CRAY-po) graduated from Brigham Young University and Harvard Law School. A devout Mormon, he was named a bishop in the church at age 31. A former congressional intern, he was elected to the state Senate at 33 in 1984, two years after leukemia took his older brother Terry’s life. Terry Crapo had been state House majority leader and a rising star in state politics. The two brothers were close, and Mike Crapo decided to follow his brother’s path to the Legislature. He became state Senate leader in 1988. Four years later, he ran for Congress, campaigning against tax increases and in favor of spending cuts, a balanced-budget amendment, and the line-item veto. He won the primary 68%-32%. “Cowboy Democrat” J.D. Williams, the state controller, ran on a “Put America First” platform on industrial policy and trade. Crapo won 61%-35%.
|Mike Crapo (R)||499,796||(99%)||($1,031,912)|
|Mike Crapo (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 1998 (70%), 1996 House (69%), 1994 House (75%), 1992 House (61%)
With a self-professed “passion for reform,” Crapo became a Republican freshman class leader and championed institutional reforms, advocating more power for rank-and-file members to bring bills to the floor and calling for more open voting, while arguing against closed rules and closed committee meetings. Many of those ideas were adopted after Republicans won control of the House in 1994. Like many Republicans then, Crapo favored hard-and-fast rules in the budget process to force tough decisions: He favored a balanced budget and across-the-board discretionary spending cuts, excluding Social Security. He sponsored the deficit-reduction bill that passed the House in 1995. His overall voting record in the House was very conservative, with some exceptions on economics. He opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 but supported normalizing trade relations with China in 2000. He criticized some trade agreements for accepting limits on U.S. agricultural exports as leverage for opening up access for other products.
In 1997, Crapo, who prides himself on returning to Idaho Falls to be with his family every weekend, faced a career choice that many House members would like to face. Republican Gov. Phil Batt announced his retirement, and GOP Sen. Dirk Kempthorne said he would run for governor. Within days, Crapo announced he would run for the Senate seat the following year, and he was unopposed in the Republican primary. His opponent was Bill Mauk, a former Democratic chairman and Boise trial lawyer. Idaho, one-quarter Mormon, had never elected a Mormon to the Senate, but this time it did. Crapo led in polls by a wide margin and won 70%-28%, carrying every county.
In his first years in the Senate, Crapo became chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the troubled Superfund program and many Environmental Protection Agency efforts. He sponsored the Senate version of the Bush-era Healthy Forests Restoration Act, aimed at cutting dense forest land after widespread fires in 2002. He has worked over the years on altering the Endangered Species Act. With Sen. Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, he has pressed for legislation that would provide tax credits or tax deductions for landowners who sign conservation easements and for more money to improve the habitat for endangered species. They first introduced such a bill in 2006 and again in 2007.
In 2005, Crapo won a seat on the Finance Committee, where he has worked quietly and productively. He secured a permanent tax break for state colleges by attaching it to a pension bill, while separately he headed off a cut in food stamps. Crapo also urged the Internal Revenue Service to implement a tax break that would help the country’s short-line railroads, one of the largest of which is used by Idaho farmers to move crops and equipment. From his seat on the Banking Committee, Crapo won passage in 2006 of a bill that would ease outdated regulation of the banking industry. In a bid to protect Boise-based chipmaker Micron Technology, Crapo also sponsored a bill that would limit the type of companies that could receive loans from the Export-Import Bank.
Crapo has developed a reputation for diligence in trying to forge consensus legislation. Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden said, “He is not a showboat. He is somebody who, day in and day out, is always a constructive force for sensible public policy.” Crapo opposed reintroduction of grizzly bears to the Bitterroot Mountains, and he wrote a bill to compensate businesses around the Dworshak Reservoir for summer draw-downs to help migrating salmon. He supported the bill allowing gun possession in national parks and wildlife refuges, and a bill to rescind fees in national forests. Crapo has also worked to get compensation for downwinders, residents of Idaho counties subjected to radiation from above-ground nuclear weapons tests in Nevada in the 1950s. In 2007, he and Montana’s senators sponsored a bill extending compensation to Idaho and Montana.
From 2001 to 2004, Crapo worked to forge a consensus on the Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness proposal with the Owyhee County Commissioners, landowners, and cattlemen, environmental groups and the Shoshone-Paiute tribe. In November 2004, consensus was reached—199,000 acres formerly off limits would be opened to fence-building and pipelines, with independent review of Bureau of Land Management decisions; 517,000 acres would be set aside as wilderness and 384 miles of rivers would be protected, all of it open to hikers and boaters; and the habitat of the California bighorn sheep and sage grouse would be protected. His measure was included in the lands bill enacted in early 2009.
Crapo and Montana Democrat Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, have co-sponsored bills to relax restrictions on agricultural sales to Cuba. In 2007, Crapo was named to the Senate Republican task force on earmarks, where he supported increased transparency but not a moratorium on earmarks, the provisions inserted into bills by lawmakers that are often derided as pork-barrel spending. In August 2007, when it was revealed that fellow Idaho Sen. Larry Craig had been arrested at a Minneapolis airport men’s room on suspicion of soliciting sex, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dispatched Crapo to tell Craig that he might face embarrassing hearings unless he voluntarily resigned from the Senate. Craig refused to resign, but on the last day in August, he said he would not run for re-election in 2008.
Though he had expressed interest in a federal District Court judgeship, Crapo sought re-election in 2004. He had no Democratic opponent and won with 99% of the vote. In early 2009, he appeared to be in excellent shape for re-election in 2010.