We publish the objective news, period. If you want the facts, then sign up below and join our movement for objective news:


Latest News

Former Idaho governor who brought about an era of Republican rule has died at 96

By Sarah May on
 March 14, 2023

Sad news emerged out of Idaho last weekend when it was announced that former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt, known for ushering in a lengthy period of Republican control in the state, died at the age of 96, as the Associated Press reported.

According to a statement issued by current Gov. Brad Little, Batt died on his birthday, which is also “Idaho Day,” the day the state celebrates the anniversary of former President Abraham Lincoln's creation of the Idaho Territory back in 1863.

From humble beginnings to state's top job

The Associated Press noted that Batt was born on a farm near the southwest Idaho town of Wilder, where he attended and graduated from high school.

Following his school years, Batt served his country as a soldier in the U.S. Army during World War II before returning home to work as an onion farmer.

Elected to the Idaho legislature in 1965, Batt devoted the next 18 years to stints in both the Idaho House of Representatives and the Idaho Senate, and served as chairman of the Idaho Republican Party during the early 1990s.

In 1994, Batt was elected to serve as the first Republican governor of the state in 28 years, a feat that was the start of a revolution in Idaho politics and paved the way for another three Republican governors, with no Democrats winning election to the post.

“A rare leader”

Batt's career was marked by a number of significant achievements, according to the AP, which cemented what former Idaho Gov. Butch Otter described as “a rare leader who transcends political ideology.”

During his time in the state legislature, Batt spearheaded the creation of the Idaho Human Rights Commission, an initiative that took on particular significance, as the AP noted, during the 1980s and 90s when the activities of white supremacist organizations flared up in the northern part of the state.

The Idaho Statesman noted that while governor, Batt advocated for a law designed to cover Hispanic farm workers in the state under Idaho's workers' compensation program.

Another well-known milestone in Batt's career in government was the role he played in a 1995 Settlement Agreement reached with the federal government, which required the Energy Department to remove a large amount of nuclear waste left in the area of the East Snake Plain Aquifer and helped safeguard the state's clean water supply, the Statesman added.

Tributes pour in

As the Idaho Capital Sun reported, Little heaped praise upon Batt in a statement announcing his passing, declaring the late former governor “the epitome of a public servant” and adding that “[h]is legacy is distinguished by his unrelenting human rights leadership, determined fiscal conservatism, and enduring love of Idaho.”

Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke said in a statement of his own, “A man of fairness and decency, Gov. Batt served our community with a commitment to protect our lands, fight for human rights, and ensure fiscal responsibility.”

A close personal friend and former mentee of Batt's was U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), who said of the respected leader, “He was a titan in Idaho politics and cared deeply about our great state. From his long and distinguished service in the Idaho Senate to his years as governor, Phil set the course and is responsible for the Idaho we know and love today. He will be missed.”

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) added his to the many voices honoring Batt, as the AP noted, saying that the former governor's “longstanding friendship and mentorship to me helped guide my professional and personal life.”

Fitting final farewell

In honor of Batt's life of service to the people of Idaho, a number of official remembrances were held last week in his home state.

Batt's casket was placed in the Capitol Rotunda in Boise on Thursday, and mourners from across Idaho were afforded the opportunity to pay their final respects.

Last Friday, a funeral for Batt was held at the Cathedral of the Rockies, after which the former governor was buried at the Wilder Cemetery in a private family service.

In addition to legions of grateful Idahoans, Batt leaves behind the three children he had with first wife, Jacque, who passed away in 2014 after 66 years of marriage, as well as Francee Riley, whom he wed in 2015.