Retiring Secretary of State Ben Ysursa made his choice Tuesday in the election to choose his successor — backing deputy Ada County clerk Phil McGrane.
“(McGrane’s) time serving the people of Ada County, especially in elections, has prepared him well for the duties of secretary of state,” Ysursa said Tuesday. “In numerous discussions with Phil about the Land Board his legal background is certainly an asset in complying with the fiduciary duties of the Land Board. I believe Phil McGrane possesses the competence, integrity and character to lead the secretary of state’s office into the future.”
Most notably, the secretary of state serves as Idaho’s chief elections official. But the job also carries one of five seats on the Idaho Land Board, the body that makes state lands decisions affecting K-12’s $31.3 million-a-year endowment.
McGrane is one of five candidates running to succeed the retiring Ysursa. McGrane, state Rep. Lawerence Denney of Midvale and former state legislators Evan Frasure of Pocatello and Mitch Toryanski of Boise will meet in the May 20 GOP primary. State Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise is the one Democrat in the race.
Ysursa’s announcement comes seven weeks before the GOP primary, and as the race appears to be heating up. On Saturday, Denney hosted a campaign fundraiser at the Idaho Center, featuring Phil Robertson, the controversial star of the reality show “Duck Dynasty.”
Ysursa, retiring after 12 years as secretary of state, represents something of a dynasty in Idaho politics. Before his election in 2002, Ysursa was the longtime chief deputy to the late Pete Cenarrusa, whose record-setting tenure in Idaho elected office included 36 years as secretary of state.
Here is the McGrane news release:
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Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa today endorsed Phil McGrane to be his successor as the Republican Party nominee for secretary of state in the upcoming May 20 GOP primary. McGrane, who first started work for Ada County elections in 2005, has been chief deputy clerk in Ada County since his graduation from law school in 2010.
“I previously stated I would not endorse any secretary of state candidate until the filing closed. The filing has closed and I have had numerous inquiries from the general public about who I believe is the best person to be our next secretary of state. In my opinion that individual is Phil McGrane,” said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa.
Ysursa continued, “Phil has demonstrated to me the requisite skills to be a great secretary of state who will carry on the office’s well-earned reputation of fairness, efficiency and service. His time serving the people of Ada County, especially in elections, has prepared him well for the duties of secretary of state. In numerous discussions with Phil about the Land Board his legal background is certainly an asset in complying with the fiduciary duties of the Land Board. I believe Phil McGrane possesses the competence, integrity and character to lead the secretary of state’s office into the future. This is why I am endorsing Phil McGrane to be our next Secretary of State.”
On receiving Secretary of State Ysursa’s endorsement McGrane said, “I am grateful to have the endorsement of Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, an extraordinary public servant. At many points in time he has helped serve as a moral compass for our state. I’d like most of all to thank him for his lifetime of public service. As secretary he helped instill a culture of fairness and transparency in those of us who work in elections. I’ve looked up to Ben as a mentor and an example of what a political leader can be: honest, ethical and fair. I am excited to continue the great tradition of honesty and transparency Idahoans have come to expect from our secretary of state.”
Phil McGrane was born in Pocatello and grew up in Boise. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and his law degree from the University of Denver. He is currently finishing his master’s of public administration from Boise State University. He and his wife Angella live in Boise with their two daughters, Mackenzie and Kennedy.