BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Powerful Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke announced Thursday he's running for lieutenant governor.
Bedke, the longest serving speaker in state history, made the announcement in the Statehouse, becoming the third current or former House member to seek the post.
“The reason I'm running is to protect and defend Idaho's future, and to give back to the state that has given me and my family so very much," Bedke said,
Bedke, a fourth-generation rancher from Oakley, was appointed to the seat representing south-central Idaho in 2001 by Republican Gov. Dirk Kempthorne. Following redistricting, he won the Republican primary and general election. He's mostly run unopposed ever since.
He became speaker in 2012 by defeating then-Speaker Lawerence Denney, now Idaho’s secretary of state. He said he intends to fully engaged in that job through the end of his term next year.
Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings of White Bird, a candidate on the far right, is also running, and her supporters jockeyed with Bedke supports at the announcement to place signs in front of news media cameras. Former Republican Rep. Luke Malek of Coeur d'Alene is also running.
“I'm the only one in this race who has tested and trusted experience to get things done for Idaho,” Bedke said.
They’re looking to replace Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is challenging incumbent Republican Gov. Brad Little.
Speaker of the House is one of the most powerful political positions in the state, having considerable influence over legislation that ultimately becomes law.
The lieutenant governor, meanwhile, presides over the Senate but only votes in cases of a tie. The lieutenant governor serves as governor when the governor is outside the state. The lieutenant governor is also next in line to be governor should something happen to the sitting governor.
The lieutenant governor post is also viewed as a steppingstone to becoming governor.
“I've worked with multiple governors to cut taxes, eliminate red tape, invest in our roads and bridges, and improve education,” he said. “And I've fought against the federal government interference and protected Idaho's conservative values.”
Bedke touted investments in education and infrastructure. He said as lieutenant governor he'd work to continue improvements on roads.
He's also been a key player in Idaho's water law, a complex and arcane subject with many players.
“As speaker, I've successfully negotiated and settled long-standing water disputes and conflicts that have plagued our state for decades,” he said.