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