Elections: Woodings can save us

Judy Ferro    [Rejected for publication]

Holli Woodings may not look like the Lone Ranger, but that’s the role she’s been called upon to play this year. You know the scenario: the cattle baron and his ranch hands run roughshod over the citizens and drive out one, two, three challengers. Things look bleak. Then the music stills, and a silent hero, calm and fearless, rides into the fray.

            Over nine legislative terms, including three as Speaker of the House, Lawerence Denney has developed major political clout.  In May he defeated three other candidates for the Republican nomination for Speaker of the House, including Phil McGrane.  McGrane, a law school graduate who has worked with Ada County elections for years, shares Ben Ysursa’s philosophy: Never forget who you work for – the people; and that transparent, fair, and efficient elections have no room for partisanship.” 
            Now the fate of Idaho elections depends on Woodings. As a principle in a family business, a Democratic legislator, and a mother of two, Woodings didn’t really need new challenges.  Yet, she foresaw the danger of a Denney victory and rode to challenge him.            
            What is so bad about Denney? 
            Two things:  he will sell public lands to wealthy investors, and he values partisan gain over the democratic process.
            Admittedly, no Idaho Republican has ever said they fight to control our national forests so they could sell them.  No, they claim the millions to be made from selling timber would spark our economy.  But the numbers don’t add up.   For one thing, the $58 million the Feds now give counties to compensate for timber cutting nearly equals the estimated $50 to $75 million to be made timber sales.  The Feds also spend about $392 million managing lands within Idaho’s borders.  In fact, some U.S. Representatives are arguing that states should HAVE to take over public lands within their borders. 
            So Denney and allies are either figuring Idaho has $350-$400 million lying around to spend on managing former Federal lands or they plan on selling the land.    
            As co-chair of the legislature’s committee on federal lands, Denney and co-chair Dick Winder hired a private attorney to work on the Federal land issue at a cost to Idaho taxpayers of at least $41,000.  Other committee members were not informed of the action, much less asked to approve it.
            And Denney has two black marks concerning elections.  While founder and sole director of Victory Fund, he raised funds from Republican legislators which were used to fund their uber-conservative challengers.  Denney claimed he’d given the funds to the Gun PAC and was totally unaware who would receive the money.  Other Republicans, however, rejected his argument and defeated him as Speaker of the House.
            Denney was also active in the fight to close Republican primaries.  Thanks to him, independents are barred from voting in the primaries and each voter’s party affiliation is announced at the polls.  The number of primary voters is lower than ever.      
            For the 45 years Pete Cenarrusa and Ben Ysursa have served Idaho’s State Department, Idahoans have benefitted from competent administration dedicated to fair elections. Now, with Denney in the running, there is already talk of ending same-day registration and early voting. 
            And I can’t imagine Denney successfully handling the 2012 primaries where new district and precinct lines were still being just before absentee voting started.  For all his experience shaping public policy, Denney has very little practical experience in administration.
            So, hold your breath while the music stills and the challenger rides to battle. 

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