Elections: Denney to challenge Ysursa?

Former Idaho House speaker and current state Rep. Lawerence Denney is positioning for a possible challenge to GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa.

State Rep. Lawerence Denney

Denney filed the paperwork for a potential run, naming a political treasurer, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Denney, R-Midvale, says he will announce his decision after gauging whether he can raise money for a campaign. He isn’t talking about the motivation for a potential challenge.

“I’m not prepared to talk about that yet,” Denney told the AP. “When we do announce, I’ll let you know.”

The secretary of state’s duties are largely functionary; most visibly, the secretary of state serves as Idaho’s chief elections officer. Ysursa has held the office since 2002; before that, he was a top aide to longtime Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa.

One policy component of the job: the secretary of state is one of five statewide elected officers on the Land Board – which, according to the state Constitution, is charged with managing state lands for maximum return to state endowments. K-12 is the largest endowment beneficiary.

Ben Ysursa
Secretary of State Ben Ysursa

Last week, Ysursa joined three Land Board colleagues in opposing Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s bid to boost endowment payments to K-12 in 2014-15. The state’s investment board instead recommended boosting the endowment’s reserves. The board followed suit, keeping the payment to K-12 frozen at $31.3 million.

Denney, who was voted out as speaker in December 2012, now chairs the House Resources and Conservation Committee. He co-chairs a legislative interim committee studying the transfer of federal lands to state management, which, according to supporters, could boost K-12 endowment payments. The committee is not expected to make recommendations before 2015.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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