Cheers and jeers: Thanks a lot, Mitch

JEERS to Mitch Toryanski, one of the four Republican candidates for secretary of state. The former deputy attorney general and state senator from Boise finished right where everyone knew he would Tuesday: fourth.

In doing so, Toryanski, who largely self-funded his campaign, made sure the Republican nomination went to the last guy anybody should want to put in charge of the state’s elections or have defending our Sunshine Laws in the court of public opinion: former House Speaker Lawerence “Boss” Denney.

Denney won the GOP nomination with 37.1 percent of the vote. Finishing in second place was Phil McGrane, the candidate endorsed by retiring Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, former Gov. Phil Batt and a number of the state’s county clerks. McGrane finished about 12,000 votes behind Denney.

Its doubtful third-place finisher Evan Frasure of Pocatello stole many votes from McGrane. And that brings us to Toryanski, who spent $32,000 of his own money for 21,630 votes.

Toryanski and McGrane both come from the Treasure Valley. That’s why so many Republicans who understand secretary of state is more than a public office — it’s a public trust — urged him to get out of the race. Toryanski was never going to win. The only thing he could do was steal votes from McGrane and hand the race to the Boss.

“If it had just been Lawerence Denney and myself, I think we’d have had a different result,” McGrane told the Idaho Statesman.

Denney’s victory is great news for Democratic candidate Holli Woodings. Expect to see a large and well-financed Republicans for Woodings group doing all it can to keep Denney from getting his mitts on the office administered so honestly and effectively by Ysursa and his predecessor, Pete Cenarrusa.

Denney’s rampant cronyism during his tenure as speaker is well known. He protected tax scofflaw Phil Hart, punished legislators who didn’t march in lockstep with him, single-handedly killed ethics reforms and tried to fire his own appointed redistricting commissioner, because she would not violate the Idaho Constitution.

Denney’s antics were so blatant that he became the first speaker in recent memory to be fired by his own caucus.

And now the Boss stands poised to become your next secretary of state.

Thanks a lot, Mitch.

JEERS to Jefferson County Prosecutor Robin Dunn. Yes, him. Again.

As reported by the Jefferson Star on Wednesday, Dunn again is making the law up as he goes along. In her federal lawsuit against Jefferson County Sheriff Blair Olsen, former county employee Andrea Lee made a number of allegations. One of the most offensive was that “certain female employees” in Olsen’s office were forced to wear skirts to work. That, Lee alleges, led to her being “subjected to ogling and inappropriate comments by Sheriff Olsen and other male employees.”

Jefferson Star reporter Charlie Van Leuven asked the county to provide a copy of the policy requiring skirts. Dunn refused, citing the lawsuit.

Public records don’t lose their status because they may be part of a lawsuit. And so, once again, this newspaper finds itself in court with Jefferson County.

By the way, if Dunn’s “logic” sounds familiar, it should. A few years back, he told commissioners he couldn’t represent the county in federal court. The county could, naturally, hire Dunn’s private firm, at a higher rate. After the attorney general told commissioners their prosecutor could represent them in federal court, Dunn agreed to pay the county back $18,000 he should not have collected in the first place.

You paid that back yet, Rob?

CHEERS to the voters in Jefferson County. The results of two local races show the natives are getting restless.

First, voters sacked longtime County Clerk Christine Boulter. Those interested in reform will not miss her.

More importantly, Jefferson County voters retained Commissioner Brian Farnsworth for four years. Farnsworth, a rookie who has worked hard to clean up county government, easily kept his seat.

Farnsworth staked out his ground in a May 4 guest column on this page. Voters reading that piece and watching his actions the last two years knew they were getting someone interested in cleaning up the swamp that is Jefferson County politics. Tuesday’s result is a clear mandate. Voters want change. And Farnsworth is the man they are counting on to make that happen.

CHEERS to the voters in Pocatello. The margin was slim, but Gate City residents upheld the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance Tuesday. Members of the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community need not fear being fired or evicted because of who they are. Repeal would have been a major step back. Tuesday’s victory means the march toward equality under the law for all Idahoans keeps moving forward.

CHEERS to the voters in Legislative District 9, which encompasses Payette, Washington and Adams counties and a small sliver of Canyon County. These folks did a smart thing Tuesday: They fired State Sen. Monty Pearce.

You might remember the loutish Pearce for a variety of misdeeds. Perhaps the most egregious came when Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter dared appoint a woman, Joan Hurlock, to the Fish &Game Commission. Pearce, chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, suggested Hurlock try something else, perhaps the nursing board.

Hurlock isn’t a nurse.

How fitting that Pearce’s career ended at the hands of a woman, Abby Lee, who is both educated and intelligent. Karma’s a heck of a thing, soon-to-be-former Sen. Pearce.

Corey Taule

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