Brent Hill hadn't planned on running for office, writes Post Register reporter Nathan Brown. Hill, an accountant, had been involved in a couple of community organizations and had long been fascinated with politics. In 2001, when Sen. Robert Lee, who was battling cancer, stepped down, Hill, who had been Lee's campaign treasurer, was appointed to fill the spot.
"I was probably too shy to run on my own for the first time, but I got appointed and I loved it," Hill said.
Hill went on to be elected in his own right nine times, never facing a serious challenge in the heavily Republican district. Due to his profession, he quickly became one of the go-to lawmakers on tax issues and ended up heading the Local Government and Taxation Committee. But he never planned on being Senate president pro tempore. He was never Majority Leader or in one of the other leadership positions that are traditionally stepping stones to the role.
"I'm just kind of a go from no place to someplace guy," Hill said.
This changed 10 years ago, when he and then-Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Geddes were on a trip to Boston together. Geddes said he was planning to retire, and asked Hill if he would like to run for the job.
"He was a great mentor, and he really motivated me to run for it and was very supportive of me in the whole process," Hill said.
Hill ran, beating Russ Fulcher, who was a state senator then and is a congressman now, for the job. Now, Hill's 19-year career in the Idaho Senate is coming to an end. Hill decided not to seek re-election this year; current-Rep. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg, ran for and won the Senate seat. Hill's 10 years leading the Senate make him the longest-serving pro tempore in Idaho history, holding the job about three weeks longer than Geddes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, has announced he plans to run for Hill's spot, and Majority Caucus Chairman Sen. Kelly Anthon, R-Burley, plans to run for Winder's, which will lead to a reshuffling of Senate leadership. Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston, has also said he plans to run for one of the leadership spots which lawmakers will vote on when they meet in Boise ahead of the Legislature's Dec. 3 organizational session.
You can read Brown's full story here at postregister.com, or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.