Education: Coeur d’Alene High School graduate, attended North Idaho College
Family: divorced father of three
Hours on average you work in a week: Way too many, probably around 70
Hours on average you sleep each night: 7
Book last read: “Anthem” by Ayn Rand
Favorite book: "Samuel Adams: A Life" by Ira Stoll
Favorite type of music: pop and classic rock
Favorite movie: “Braveheart”
Favorite spectator sport: I don't watch sports. I don't have a TV to watch them even if I wanted to.
Hobbies: I love to cook. I like to think I'm better at it than my kids say I am.
Best advice you ever received: Never give up, never give in
Quality you admire most in a person: Passion to a cause and willingness to personally sacrifice for it
One person who influenced you most in life: My father
Your greatest accomplishment in life so far: My children, but that is a work in progress. Politically, I would have to say it was back in 2006 when I helped stop the Legislature from putting an advisory ballot question on the November election. Leaving the issue unfinished set the stage for the special session that removed school maintenance and operation funding from the property tax burden.
Anyone involved in North Idaho politics likely knows who Larry Spencer is.
For citizens who attend government meetings of any type - city council, county board of commissioners, redistricting, school board, highway district - chances are good they have been in the presence of Larry Spencer at least once.
He's the upbeat, tenacious guy you might run into at the courthouse, City Hall or in a hallway in the Capitol building in Boise.
Those who read this paper's letters to the editor or the local news blogs have likely come across Spencer's comments a time or two, and read others' sometimes strong reactions to Spencer's positions and theories.
But, who is this Larry Spencer really? What is he up to, and why is he always smiling?
"The only thing you can change is what's in front of you, and if you keep a good attitude about the future, good things generally happen," he said. "I never let life get me down."
Spencer, who lives in the Rocking R Ranch community in Hayden, was born in Sandpoint and graduated from Coeur d'Alene High School.
"I'm local. My family homesteaded here more than 100 years ago, in the Cocolalla area," he said.
Spencer told The Press he is a "professional political operative." He said he lobbies, provides political consulting and develops strategies for campaigns.
When asked where he does most of this work, Spencer laughed.
"Anywhere there is good cell phone service," he said.
That's another place Spencer is often seen - in his car, pulled over to the side of the road while talking.
"Most of my work is done by phone. I don't like email because I can't type and drive. My clients live in many states, and I have some that I have never met or even spoken to. My only contact is through their assistants and attorneys. I have never traveled outside Idaho to work even if the work is in other areas," Spencer said. "If I can't do it from here, I turn the job down."
He declined to comment on any particular clients, saying he often deals with "very sensitive" campaigns.
"I'm the call they make when others haven't come through and they simply cannot afford to lose," Spencer said.
When did you become interested in politics?
Back in 2006. I decided that I needed to do my part to make sure my kids would have the same freedom we took for granted when I was growing up, and if I didn't do something, I couldn't expect anyone else to.
How do you define "freedom"?
Americans believe they are free, but the truth is, we aren't. We have ceded control of our daily decisions to the government. Regulations control nearly everything we do. For example, 20 years ago, if you wanted to replace the window in your shop with an energy efficient one, you could buy the window and change it. Now you are required to buy a permit that can cost more than the window. How is that freedom? We are almost to the point that we need to have government permission to board an airplane, and if we don't stop the trend, we may one day be required to get permission to travel at all. It will all be in the name of security, of course, but it is really just conditioning Americans to become compliant sheep that the bureaucrats can manage and control.
Was there something going on in 2006, or perhaps earlier, that prompted you to start paying attention to politics? What was it?
My mother had always been involved in school politics when I was growing up. In 2006, I felt that School District 271 was not being honest with their request for a bond, so I sent out 26,000 letters and asked the voters to vote it down. They did, and I knew I needed to stay involved.
Do you consider yourself a government watchdog, and if so, what is the number one reason you do it, other than for your children's future?
I prefer the term citizen activist, but I suppose watchdog is fair. It isn't just for my kids, it is for everybody's children and grandchildren. America needs to wake up and realize that we need serious change if our country is to continue to exist.
You obviously enjoy the political realm. What is it about it that gets your blood pumping?
Knowing I can make a difference. Anybody can, really, if they just put their minds to it and resolve to see it through.
Who would you consider the greatest political leader of all time and why?
That is a hard question, because there are so many. Any of the founding fathers would be good examples. They risked or sacrificed not only their status and assets, but even their lives for the future of America. We don't see many like them today.
Will you ever run for office?
I have always felt there were good candidates in races I was eligible to run in, but I am reconsidering that. Progressives have taken over our country, and I have been seeing some races that solid conservatives don't seem to be running for. I live a very public life and I'm not perfect, but I also have a proven track record of fighting to make the government accountable. I think the voters would support a candidate who has fought for what is important to them.
So, does that mean we may see your name on a ballot sometime soon?
If I run, people who oppose the conservative movement will do everything they can to destroy my reputation. They would sling mud in the hope that I would have to spend time correcting the facts instead of talking about the issues. When I think about the public scrutiny and personal attacks I would face, it would be easy to say no. Then again, if our founding fathers had been willing to risk their lives, how could I not be willing to endure some character assassination.
What do you think would make government more accountable?
Investigative reporters, or at least more people willing to scrutinize the government. Most people working for government are good people dedicated to public service, but there are some who think it is OK to mislead or ignore the laws in order to advance their own agendas.
You say your life is "very public." How so?
I face scrutiny for most things I do. For example, last year I took my kids out for a boat ride on a friend's boat. He is also a political figure, and within half an hour of my walking to his boat at The Resort Marina, a post had been put up on a political gossip blog site by a prominent Democrat who wanted to know if this man with the boat and I were friends. A couple years ago, I had moved before an election and didn't vote. That missed vote of mine was run as a story on the front page of the Sunday Idaho edition of the Spokesman-Review, above the fold and in a print size that could be read from about ten feet away. Even the governor doesn't face that level of pressure.
What is your most unusual story?
I was once placed under citizen's arrest for trespassing on property owned by the government. The officer who responded told the fellow I was on a public right of way, but he demanded I be arrested anyway. When it went to court, the prosecutor requested the charge be dismissed. As I recall, he said, "Mr. Spencer has been charged with trespassing on public property, and, well, that just isn't possible, your honor." I don't think anybody in the room held a straight face.
When you're not tracking an issue or government activity, what do you? Is there any downtime for Larry Spencer?
I probably work too much, but I do enjoy gardening and traveling with my kids.
One last question, why don't you watch television?
I'd rather make the news than watch it.