Senator Kate Kelly served as Senate President yesterday. There are only seven democrats in the 35 member Idaho Senate. Senator Kelly is the state's first female Senate Minority leader since Mary Lou Reed in 1994. Kate will be retiring from the legislature this year and so Republican leadership asked her to take the honor of wielding the gavel and running the lot of us through the orders of business and the hugely formal process of running the Senate floor process where we meet as a group to vote on legislation that has come to us from the Senate's ten committees. It was a delight to call her Madame President. Some on the floor stood fro recognition just to do so. She got a standing ovation as she left the diocese.
Losing Kate from the Senate means losing the state's most hardworking proponent of ethics reform. It means losing a legal mind with a strong background in environmental issues. It means losing a classmate and friend I have served with for six years, someone I have laughed with, prodded to eat more, talked of family with, respected for her frequent kindness and firm integrity.
It means likely that Branden Durst, brilliant, hardworking and on occasion religiously conservative, will run now to come here to serve with us. Kate and Branden could not possibly be more different. Branden brings to us though a sharp eye like Kate's, a voice that cracks and breaks like Kate's, but one that will surely learn (like all of us slowly must) to blend with it the kindness and deference to the proprieties of the Senate.
It feels like nothing next year will be the same here, especially without Kate. It never is though. This place is like water, ice, steam — year to year, day to day, minute to minute.