Idaho Secretary of State

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Secretary of State office changes hands this week after 12 years under the same elected leader. Lawerence Denney takes over for the retiring Ben Ysursa, who has been Idaho’s secretary of state for three terms.

Ysursa leaves as one of Idaho’s most respected political figures. Denney – a former Speaker of the Idaho House - raised eyebrows when he filed to run for the office. Some saw the Republican from Midvale as too partisan to run the state office that oversees elections, campaign finance, lobbying, and business filings.

Ysursa says he has heard the whispers regarding what Denney’s plan for the office – and policies on voter access – might be.

How Idaho Makes It Harder (And Easier) To Vote

Oct 17, 2014
Frontline.org

In the past few years, Idaho has made it harder for people to vote. In the past few years, Idaho has made it easier for people to vote. Both of those sentences are true according to PBS Frontline.

A recent article from the PBS show’s website features Ballot Watch, an interactive that lists 18 states that made it harder to vote and six states that have expanded voter access.

Idaho is one of only two states to pass laws since 2010 that make it both harder and easier to vote. Rhode Island is the other.

Courtesy Idaho Public Television

Idaho's Secretary of State Democratic candidate Holli Woodings is challenging Republican opponent Lawerence Denney to forgo his public pension.

Woodings announced Monday that she's challenging the long-term Idaho politician after he said he supported taking every elected official off the state's pension system during an Oct. 7 debate.

After serving nearly 20 years in the Idaho Legislature, Denney's pension will jump from $500 a month to $3,600 a month after his first term if elected.

The two candidates running to be Idaho's next Secretary of State faced off Tuesday in a debate hosted by Idaho Public Television.  

State Representative Lawerence Denney of Midvale, a Republican, debated state Representative Holli Woodings of Boise, a Democrat.

In a debate Monday, Denney was reported as saying that primaries should not be run by the state government, but by political parties.  

Boise State Public Radio

Former Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney has won the Republican primary in the secretary of state race.

Denney had nearly 36 percent of the vote with 92 percent of precincts reporting from Tuesday's election. He beat second-place finisher Phil McGrane, who had the support of retiring incumbent Ben Ysursa, by more than 10,000 votes.

Denney will face Democrat Holli Woodings in November. Woodings ran unopposed in the primary.

Idaho Public Television

For the first time in almost 50 years, Idaho voters won't be given the option to choose Ben Ysursa or Pete Cenarrusa on the May 20 primary ballot.

Instead, four Republicans and one Democrat are racing to become Idaho's next secretary of state. Three out of the four GOP candidates come with legislative experience, while the fourth is currently the Ada County chief deputy clerk.

While the job serves as Idaho's chief election officer, the secretary is also a member of the Idaho Land Board and oversees business filings.

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt has endorsed Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane to be Idaho secretary of state.

The Republican in a statement released Thursday says McGrane is the best person to continue the sound judgment and fiscal responsibility set by current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and his predecessor, Pete Cenarrusa.

Ysursa endorsed McGrane on Tuesday. Ysursa is retiring at the end of the year.

Rep. Holli Woodings, a Boise Democrat, has announced her plan to run for Idaho's secretary of state seat.

The freshman lawmaker is aiming for the spot currently filled by Republican Ben Ysursa, who is set to retire at the end of the year.

The race is already crowded.

GOP members Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, Ada County Chief Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane, and former senators Evan Frasure and Mitch Toryanski are all running.

Woodings, who vowed to maintain a nonpartisan approach if voted into office, is a Boise State University graduate.

Why It's Tough To Track What Lobbyists Give To Idaho Lawmakers

Jan 30, 2014
Tim Hurst, lobbying
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Late last year, St. Louis Public Radio and NPR launched an interactive data project that lets Missouri voters see just how much money their state representative has accepted from lobbyists. It's an easy-to-navigate visual that gives people a sense of the kinds of relationships that have developed under their Capitol dome. A similar one-stop-shop of lobbying disclosure info wouldn't be possible in Idaho.

A former Idaho legislator from Pocatello, Evan Frasure, is running as a Republican in the ever-more-crowded 2014 secretary of state primary.

The Idaho State Journal reports Friday Frasure plans to make a formal announcement next week.

Frasure says he believes it's the right time for somebody from eastern Idaho to fill the post.

Already, two southwestern Idaho people have joined the GOP primary race: Rep. Lawerence Denney of Midvale, and deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane.

State of Idaho

Next May's Republican primary for Idaho secretary of state could get a little more crowded, now that Ben Ysursa has opted against seeking a fourth term in 2014.

Former state Sen. Mitch Toryanski of Boise said Monday he's filing official paperwork, to allow him to begin fundraising and tour Idaho.

Already, Rep. Lawerence Denney, a former House speaker from Midvale, says he wants to be the state's top election official.

Toryanski said his listening tour, to gauge sentiment among GOP voters, will start Nov. 18, but the itinerary is still being worked out.

Ben Ysursa
Courtesy of Idaho Secretary of State's office

Longtime Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa says he has decided not to seek a fourth term in office.  

The veteran Republican announced his plans to step away from office Friday.

Ysursa says he thought long and hard about his future, but ultimately decided to step away from public office when his term expires in January 2015.

Ysursa is 64 years old and he has worked in the office for 40 years.

Lawerence Denney
Boise State Public Radio

Republican state Rep. Lawerence Denney announced his run for secretary of state, even as incumbent Ben Ysursa remains undecided whether to seek a fourth term.

At an event in the Idaho Capitol in Boise, Denney on Thursday pledged to pursue election fraud allegations and said he'd work against the Idaho Department of Land's push to expand into commercial real estate where it competes with private business.

Cenarrusa, funeral
Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

Hundreds of relatives, friends and supporters are honoring the life of Idaho political legend Pete Cenarrusa at his funeral in Boise.

Secretary of State Ben Ysursa delivered the eulogy for his mentor Friday, telling about 600 people gathered at a downtown Boise cathedral that Cenarrusa lived by the golden rule: He loved his family, country and ancestral home.

Boise State University, Albertsons Library

The body of Pete Cenarrusa will lie in state at Idaho’s capitol building Thursday from noon to 7:00 p.m. Cenarrusa, who held state office in Idaho uninterrupted for more than five decades, died Sunday at age 95 with his wife Freda at his side.

Cenarrusa served nine terms in Idaho’s House of Representatives, including three terms as Speaker. He served as Idaho’s Secretary of State from 1967 to 2003. He was also well known for his work to preserve Basque history and culture in Idaho.

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