Idaho senator Mike Crapo faces an uncertain political future after being arrested for drunk driving in Alexandria, VA on Sunday. Crapo, a devout Mormon who has publicly claimed that he abstains from alcohol, registered a .110 blood alcohol level — well above Virginia’s legal limit of .08.
Police stopped the third-term Republican after he ran through a red traffic light. Crapo then failed onsite sobriety tests, leading police to arrest him for driving under the influence.
“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Crapo said in a statement. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter.”
“I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated,” the senator added.
Crapo will appear in court on January 4th to face the charges; on January 3rd, he is expected to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
The arrest could prove immensely damaging to Crapo’s political career. Crapo is a former bishop in the Mormon church, and has publicly claimed that he adheres to the church’s rejection of alcohol. As Buzzfeed points out, Latter-Day Saints make up about a quarter of Idaho’s population, and a significant number of the state’s top political donors.
Crapo’s former colleague in Idaho’s Senate delegation, Larry Craig, was felled by a similar disconnect between his public morals and his private behavior. Craig, a vocal opponent of gay rights, was famously arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct for soliciting sex in a men’s room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in 2007. Although he served the remaining year and a half of his term, his political career was effectively finished as soon as the news broke.
That said, there is reason to believe that Crapo could survive the scandal. He is a popular figure in Idaho, having won over 70 percent of the vote in all three of his Senate elections, and he doesn’t stand for re-election until 2016. Furthermore, he wouldn’t be the first Republican senator to survive a public spectacle of his hypocrisy. Louisiana senator David Vitter, a supposed advocate for strong family values, was busted as a client in a a Washington D.C. prostitution ring in 2007; despite the scandal, he went on to win re-election in 2010 with 57 percent of the vote.
Photo credit: AP/Alexandria Police Department