Republican Sen. Patti Anne Lodge doesn't tolerate much bull... unless the seven-term lawmaker is far from the Idaho Capitol, at her Sunnyslope farm, where she wrangles the real thing.
"We raise registered cattle," said Lodge, 70, who rides the ranch with her husband, U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge.
Prior to an early morning committee meeting--and there are many for the Canyon County legislator as she serves on the Health and Welfare, Judiciary and Rules, and State Affairs committees--Boise Weekly talked to Lodge about her blue-collar roots and being targeted by a political action committee.
I understand that football--particularly at the College of Idaho--was a recurring theme in your family's life.
My father was going to play professional football in Pittsburgh, but when World War II broke out, he served in the Navy. His commanding officer was Clem Parberry, who was the coach at the College of Idaho. After the war, he recruited my father to play football for him. So that's how we came to Idaho. My father went to college under the G.I. Bill and we lived in a Caldwell housing project.
Your husband also played at the College of Idaho.
He did. He was a three-time All-American.
And your father eventually became a coach.
In fact, my Dad worked four jobs: a coach, a teacher, a referee and an assistant water master on the Boise River system. And at Christmastime, he took another job at the post office. He worked so hard for my brother and me to be successful. We only had one car in the family, so my mother would walk a mile-and-a-half every day to her job as a medical assistant.
What were the life lessons that you learned from your parents?
The importance of volunteering and community involvement. Whenever there was some kind of community activity, our parents made sure we were there. We always felt that we were given so much to start our life in Idaho. My parents would always say, "If you go to Idaho and wear out a pair of shoes, you'll stay." And that's what happened.
And what was your childhood like?
I was very involved in horse activities. If it had to do with a horse, I was there. Riding clubs were really big in Idaho back then. If you competed to be the Snake River Stampede queen or Caldwell Night Rodeo queen, there would be girls representing at least 25 riding clubs.
Were you ever a rodeo queen?
I was Miss Rodeo Idaho.
Can you tell me which year?
No. [Laughter]. OK, it was 50 years ago, this year.
Let's move forward to this year's legislative session and your "aye" vote for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposal for a state-run health insurance exchange.
Have you heard the ads on the radio against the Republican senators who voted "yes?"
Were you targeted for your vote?
Always. If you do the right thing, you're going to be targeted, one way or another. Sometimes you have to make a hard choice to get something moving. For me, I wasn't going to sit back and not do anything, knowing that the federal government would come in. I'm going to trust Idaho people to run the exchange.
Who is targeting you?
The Free Enterprise PAC. [The political action committee is currently running a series of radio ads across Idaho, criticizing Lodge and 17 other GOP senators, claiming that they "ran as conservatives last November and voted with the liberals this February."]
They use half-truths. I'm going to trust Idaho people to run this.
I must ask you about a photo on your website that shows you and ...
My bull. That was Norman.
Do you have others?
Up on my wall, there are pictures of Andre, Ringo, Chloe the cow, and now we have our new bull: Abe Lincoln. House Speaker [Scott] Bedke buys our bulls.
He buys all the bulls we raise. And he's happy with our bulls.
I remember your campaign slogan was that you take the bull by the horns.
Never forget it.