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BOISE, Idaho – Last week, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) sat down with Idaho Governor Brad Little, Governor Butch Otter, and Governor Dirk Kempthorne on Idaho Public Television to remember their friend, mentor, and former Idaho Governor Phil Batt.

“Phil Batt was above all a fun guy. A fun guy to hang out with . . . Phil’s first love was his family. There’s no question about it . . .

“And he loved corny jokes too. The first corny joke I remember him telling, I can’t remember what the joke was, but I remember it bombed.”

On Phil Batt’s fiscal conservatism: “I was on his transition team when he became Governor, and I was there when he got his first cellphone. He didn’t think that cellphone was a good idea to begin with. Anyway, he shows up the next day and says, ‘this thing isn’t working anymore.’ I said, ‘well, did you charge it?’ And he said, ‘Charge it?!? You gotta charge this every night?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘I don’t want this thing,’ and he gave it back to them. He didn’t like it because they were spending money on a cellphone.”

On Batt’s mentorship: “When I came to the Senate, I’d spent two terms as Ada County Prosecuting Attorney, but it was a legal position, not a governing position. You weren’t making executive decisions as to what you should do or how to go about it or that sort of thing . . . By the time I got [to the legislature], Phil had [governing] down. He was a master at governing. He had the innate ability to listen to a problem and knew exactly where it fell on what we should or shouldn’t be doing about it. I got that from him very early on, and it still informs every decision I make today—probably more subconsciously than anything else. You either develop that yourself, which most people don’t, or you pick up pieces of it from other people. For me, and I suspect the other guys sitting at this table, Phil was a tremendous influence in that regard.”

What Risch will miss most about Batt: “He was always there. You didn’t see him every day. You didn’t talk to him every day. But he was always there. I don’t think there’s anyone at this table that hasn’t made lots of calls to Phil over the years and said, ‘hey, this is what we got. This is what I’m thinking. What do you think?’ All of us stood shoulder to shoulder obviously on the agreement to cleanup [the Idaho National Lab (INL)]. Nobody put a finger on INL without calling Phil Batt and saying, ‘hey this is what we’re thinking of doing. What do you want to do?’ That’s what I’ll miss and probably miss the first time I think I’d like to run this by Phil, and he’s not there to run it by.”

To watch the whole interview, click here.

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