Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), encumbered by a scandal since last summer, did not file for reelection by his state's deadline Friday, keeping a promise he made and officially marking the end of his congressional career.
Craig's political future has been in doubt since his arrest and guilty plea on disorderly conduct charges filed after an incident in a men's restroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport last June.
The three-term senator, who previously served five terms in the House, denied the charges that he solicited sex from an undercover police officer conducting a sting operation to crack down on alleged gay sexual liaisons in the airport's bathrooms. Craig said he pleaded guilty in hopes of quelling a scandal, a decision he said he regretted.
The passing of Friday's 5:00 p.m. deadline brings to a close a career in elected office that began with Craig's election to the Idaho state Senate in 1974 and all but clears the way for Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch (R) to take his seat next year in the strongly Republican state where President Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) 68 percent to 30 percent in the last presidential contest.
Risch announced his candidacy last October with the support of Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter (R) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R), a co-chairman of Risch's campaign.