The office of Idaho secretary of state should not be partisan, and although its two most recent office holders, Pete Cenarrusa and Ben Ysursa, both technically had the “R” after their names, they executed the duties of the office with honor and distinction in a truly nonpartisan manner since 1970. They set the bar extremely high and will be a very tough act to follow.
Both the candidates seeking the office this year — Democrat Holli Woodings and Republican Lawerence Denney — are promising to follow the lead of Cenarrusa and Ysursa and keep partisan politics out of the Secretary of State’s Office. When evaluating whether they’ll actually be capable of doing that, voters need to look at their past history, and based on that, they should have serious concerns regarding Denney’s ability to keep partisan politics out of the office.
Perhaps the biggest reason to be skeptical of Denney is what he did to former Nampa Republican Rep. Dolores Crow in 2012 when she was part of a committee tasked with the chore of changing Idaho’s legislative districts to accommodate population changes. When Denney was Speaker of the House, he and then-Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko tried to kick Crow and another Republican redistricting commissioner, Randy Hansen of Twin Falls, off the commission because Crow and Hansen weren’t going about their duties in a way that helped the GOP as much as possible.
That wasn’t their job. Redistricting isn’t supposed to be about helping a party. It’s supposed to be a nonpartisan undertaking based on population shifts, not Ds and Rs. It took an edict from Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to halt the ousters, and although Denney says it was the product of poor communication, the intent was nonetheless unmistakable.