Idaho's Most Controversial Politician: Glen H. Taylor

Marc Johnson, July 14, 2020


Post-World War II Idaho politics were unpredictable, intraparty challenges were common, partisanship, often exemplified by newspaper treatment of candidates, was extreme and anti-Communism, a defining theme of the period, was often an emotional, divisive and decisive issue. The turmoil produced some notable political characters, brought to an end the colorful and controversial career of perhaps the most liberal politician ever elected in Idaho, Democratic Senator Glen Hearst Taylor, and remarkably, particularly considering Idaho’s partisan make-up today, helped launched the unlikely political career of Senator Frank Church. Marc Johnson, a political historian and former chief of staff to Idaho’s longest serving governor, Cecil D. Andrus, speaks about Glen Taylor’s colorful and controversial political career and his influence on Idaho and the nation.

Johnson is the author of Political Hell-Raiser: The Life and Times of Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, published in 2019 by the University of Oklahoma Press. He is a former board member and chair of the Idaho Humanities Council. Johnson’s writing on politics and history have appeared in Montana The Magazine of Western History, The Blue Review, The California Journal of Politics and Policy, the New York Times and many Idaho and regional newspapers.

Johnson’s next book – Tuesday Night Massacre: Four Senate Elections and the Radicalization of the Republican Party – is the story of how independent expenditure campaigns began and how those campaigns upend politics beginning with Senate contests in 1980. The University of Oklahoma Press will publish that book in 2021