A Moscow woman who unsuccessfully challenged House Speaker Tom Boyd in last month's election will serve in the Legislature despite losing the election.
Gov. Cecil Andrus has appointed Betty Benson to replace Craig Mosman of Moscow, who was elected to the District 5 state Senate seat, but resigned due to health reasons."She has been a longtime activist in the Democratic Party," said Andrus, shortly after telephoning Benson to notify her she had been selected.
The governor said Benson's campaign against Boyd was a "good, clean, forthright" legislative race. He also cited her experience as a Senate intern and a substitute in the Senate.
The Latah County Democratic Central Committee had voted to submit the names of Benson, Andrew Schwam and Betsy Thomas.
Mosman, who won a close three-way race last month, tendered his resignation Monday, citing health concerns. He will remain as the county's prosecutor.
Mosman is suffering from an unidentified intestinal ailment that has baffled medical experts and reportedly caused him to lose 20 pounds in recent months. He thought he would be well enough to serve in the Senate at election time, but his condition has deteriorated.
His brother, Wynn, said the illness apparently is chronic, but not cancer.
A 21-21 split in the Idaho Senate emerged from the election. The state's Democrats needed a successor to Mosman to attend Thursday's legislative organizational meeting in Boise, where conflicts could occur over leadership in the chamber.
Schwam, who finished second in last month's Senate race running as an independent, was criticized by Andrus for splitting the vote and potentially allowing a Republican to be elected.
Schwam joined the Democrats after the election. He said Tuesday Andrus supported Mosman for election and did not intend anything personal in criticizing his independent candidacy.
"I don't think you'll waste your vote by sending my name down there," he told the committee.
Schwam, a Moscow attorney and former 2nd District judge, contended he would be electable two years from now because he drew support from both Democrats and Republicans at the polls.
Benson said she briefly filled in for Sen. Ron Beitelspacher, D-Grangeville, last year and would have more seniority than other freshmen lawmakers.
A master's degree candidate in geography at the University of Idaho, Benson said education and environmental are important issues to her.
Thomas is the UI women's center director and nearly knocked off Republican Rep. James "Doc" Lucas in 1982. She said she came closer to defeating an incumbent GOP lawmaker than anyone in the area in the past 20 years.
Mosman supported his predecessor, Don Mackin, who angered some Democrats when he handpicked Mosman as his successor.
Mackin said he would be willing to give the seat back to Mosman if Mosman made an "extremely rapid" improvement in his medical condition.
"I sought the nomination," Mackin said after the meeting. "A total of nine people did. They had a three-vote runoff, people were eliminated and I was eliminated early in the balloting."
Mackin said he felt the committee had plenty of Schwam supporters, and that was one reason he was chosen to the list. He said some of those people may have viewed Mosman's tagging Mackin as a replacement as a "Mosman-Mackin handoff."
The last candidate eliminated from consideration was Elizabeth Sullivan, who lost her race against Boyd two years ago. The other candidates were the county's solid-waste staffer Steven Meloche, Moscow lawyers Louise Regelin and Linda Pall and Idaho Department of Lands forester Damian Sedney.
Both former Sen. Norma Dobler, D-Moscow, and Brad Cuddy, a UI student and former student body president, declined nominations to seek the Senate post.
Deborah McRoberts, chairwoman of the legislative District 5e an appointment soon after.