Lacking "Fire In The Belly" Idaho's Ysursa Opts For Retirement

Nov 26, 2013

Ben Ysursa has been Idaho's Secretary of State since 2003. He recently announced he will not seek re-election in 2014.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says his recent decision not to run for a fourth term in office came down to one question.

"Did I have the inner zeal in my body, the fire in the belly to run?" Ysursa says. "I just didn't feel it. I was hopeful I'd catch the bug but I didn't. I was convinced a year ago I wasn't going to run. And then others started working on me a little bit. It was a tough decision."

Ysursa, a Republican, joined the office as a deputy secretary of state in the mid 1970s. He was elected secretary of state in 2002 and then easily re-elected in 2006 and 2010. Approaching 40 years in the same office, he says he’s ready to retire.

But had he run, Ysursa would have faced at least one primary challenger. Former House Speaker Lawrence Denney, R-Midvale, announced his candidacy this fall. Ysursa says he wasn't surprised when he learned he'd have an opponent from within the party.

"It had gotten out there - it wasn't absolutely a surprise that I was considering not [running] again," he says. "And of course other folks probably disagree with a few things I do - certain aspects of the Republican Party."

Ysursa is confident he would have been re-elected had he chosen to run.

"I still think professionalism, competency, and character and integrity matter," he says. "And I think I would have been successful in a primary run. People have to run on their record. I'm proud of my record and I think my record would have proven successful."

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