By Jill Smolowe
September 17, 2007 12:00 PM

As a politician, Idaho’s Larry Craig literally whistled while he worked. He built strong work relationships and a solid conservative reputation during 26 years on Capitol Hill, first in the House and, since 1991, in the Senate. But both of those pillars came crashing down after news broke that Craig, 62, married with three grown children, had been arrested by an undercover cop as part of a sex sting in a Minnesota airport men’s room. Under pressure, Craig said Sept. 1 he would resign at the end of the month—unless, he added later, he can clear his name first.

Friends say the senator and his wife of 24 years, Suzanne, 63, are bearing up well. “I’ve laughed with them in recent days,” says Bess Conway, a neighbor in the Washington, D.C., marina where the senator lives aboard a 42-ft. yacht when in the capital, while his wife, a retired dietitian who also worked in the beef and dairy industries (and is, like Craig, an avid gardener), maintains their home near Boise. “Suzanne is very much in love with Larry,” says Craig staffer Kendra Waitley. “I’m sure they’ll get through this.” The pair, who spend most weekends together, began dating in 1980. After marrying in ’83, Craig adopted Suzanne’s kids from a previous marriage.

Three days after his resignation, son Michael Craig, 38, and daughter Shae Howell, 36, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to voice support for Craig’s version of events—that he made no sexual overtures in the airport bathroom—saying they had questioned him on his arrest and subsequent guilty plea (for disorderly conduct) and were satisfied he was telling the truth. “It was tough standing there next to him,” Michael said of the resignation. “But we are family, and we stay together through good times and bad.”