Idaho State Senator Clint Stennett, 1956-2010

Clint Stennett, Idaho State Senator and former Minority Leader, died yesterday, October 14th at his home. He had been fighting brain cancer since 2008.

From Senator Stennett's Wikipedia entry, it states he represented District 25, which includes Blaine, Gooding, Camas and Lincoln Counties. Stennett had been in the Idaho State Senate since 1994 and served as the Minority Leader from 1999 to 2009. He previously served in the Idaho State House of Representatives from 1990 through 1994.

Stennett was president of E-da-Ha Inc., which owns television stations in Sun Valley, Twin Falls and McCall.

Also in Wikipedia, it's written that "as one of the state's most prominent Democrats, Stennett had been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor in 2006. However, he chose stand for reelection to the Idaho Senate instead. Stennett ran in the general election unopposed as no challenger filed to run against him. Stennett again ran for reelection unopposed in 2008." Stennett was succeeded as Minority Leader by Kate Kelly of Boise. Stennett's wife, Michelle, filled in for him during the 2010 legislative session and is running for his seat in the upcoming election. posts, "Stennett earned a reputation as a natural resources specialist and a conciliator who could work with conservative Republicans."

43rd State Blues sends our condolences to Senator Stennett's wife, Michelle and their family. Clint Stennett was a remarkable man, a dedicated Democrat, and an exemplary advocate for the people of Idaho.

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The photo above...

... was taken in a room at the Holiday Inn in Pocatello during the 2004 State Democratic Convention. Clint was in the room, along with Rep. Wendy Jaquet, Rep. James Ruchti, former Rep. Lin Whitworth, former Congressman Richard Stallings and others during an interview with a radio station out of Boise.

He was a bright spot

when all around was dark. Mike Kennedy wrote a glowing tribute I'll repost here.

I met Clint in 1995 when I went to work for Walt Minnick's US Senate campaign. A major issue was the nuclear waste shipments into the Snake River Valley, and Clint's constituents were very much opposed to it. We worked closely with him and his wife Michelle, as well as lots of others. Through Clint I met countless farmers and ranchers in the Magic Valley of all political stripes. It doesn't matter what the positions on that issue were, I cherished how well respected Clint was in his part of the state because he was one of those folks.

Clint was raised by a single mom - the indefatigable Carole Stennett, who once brought me to the stockyards in Twin Falls county and taught me about the auction process for ranchers there. From his hardscrabble background Clint went on to local colleges (CSI and ISU) and built a successful business, including radio stations and newspapers.

I had tremendous hopes that Clint would run for higher office someday, because he was straight out of central casting as a candidate, but more to the point he was a genuinely decent man who cared about people. He never did, and now he never will, but I will remember him as a real gem in my Idaho experience.

Upon his being diagnosed with brain cancer, he was almost literally adopted by Bruce Newcomb and Celia Gould as a support structure. Bruce had been through cancer himself and knew how to help and support him. These people were highly accomplished politicians on different sides of the partisan divide but it couldn't have mattered less. And that's what I think of when I contemplate what it means to try to be a person of character in what can be an ugly business of politics.

I met Clint through political campaigns, but he became a friend beyond that. I'm kicking myself that I haven't been in touch with him recently. Not because he needed the connection, but because I did. RIP Clint.