Senator Larry Craig Vows To Serve Out Remainder Of His Term

Thursday, October 4th 2007, 1:02 pm

By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Idaho Sen. Larry Craig defiantly vowed to serve out his term in office on Thursday despite losing a court attempt to rescind his guilty plea in a men's room sex sting.

``I have seen that it is possible for me to work here effectively,'' Craig said in a written statement certain to disappoint fellow Republicans who have long urged him to step down.

Craig had earlier announced he would resign his seat by Sept. 30, but had wavered when he went to court in hopes of withdrawing his plea.

The third-term lawmaker issued his statement not long after Idaho Gov. C.L. ``Butch'' Otter relayed word he has selected a replacement for Craig in the event of a resignation.

``He is ready to act should we receive a letter of resignation,'' said Jon Hanian, Otter's spokesman in Boise, in what seemed like a calculated signal that home-state Republicans want Craig to surrender the seat he has held for 17 years.

In his statement, Craig said he will not run for a new term next year.

But in the meantime, he said, ``I will continue my effort to clear my name in the Senate Ethics Committee _ something that is not possible if I am not serving in the Senate.''

The ethics committee has already signaled it is reviewing the facts of Craig's case, taking the step after the Senate Republican leadership requested it.

Craig's decision to stay and fight raises the strong possibility of public hearings _ virtually certain to be televised live _ centered on the issue of gay sex.

When the charges first surfaced, Craig said he would resign by Sept. 30. But then he decided to attempt withdrawing a written guilty plea in August to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He said he would stay in office at least until a judge ruled on that bid.

``Because the defendant's plea was accurate, voluntary and intelligent, and because the conviction is supported by the evidence ... the defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea is denied,'' Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter wrote.

Craig's lawyer, Billy Martin issued a statement saying his client was considering whether to appeal the ruling.

Craig shocked the Senate in late August when it was disclosed that he had quietly pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct after being arrested by an undercover police officer.

The officer said Craig had exhibited behavior consistent with seeking a sexual encounter in a men's room at the Minneapolis airport.

Craig said he had panicked when arrested and admitted guilt because an Idaho newspaper had been aggressively investigating allegations that he was gay.

Emphatically denying that was the case, Craig hired lawyers and announced plans to seek the withdrawal of the plea.

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