Printed on: December 06, 2012

Davis keeps leadership post

By Clark Corbin

Sen. Bart Davis emerged from an Idaho Falls power struggle Wednesday night to retain his Senate leadership position following a challenge from local Sen. Dean Mortimer.

Davis, an Idaho Falls Republican, is beginning his eighth term in the Legislature. He has served as Senate majority leader for the past 10 years.

Mortimer, a fellow Republican, has completed two terms in the Senate, as well as a previous term in the House.

House members, meanwhile, changed their leadership.

Rep. Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, will become the next speaker of the House after ousting Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale.

In the Senate showdown, both Idaho Falls senators had sought the majority leadership post.

Davis represents District 33, the Idaho Falls city district, while Mortimer's District 30 includes Ammon and large portions of Bonneville County west and north of Idaho Falls.

Within the 35-member Senate, the majority leader functions as the group's No. 2 on the leadership ladder.

Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, holds the top-ranking Senate position as president pro tempore.

Hill was not challenged during Wednesday evening's leadership elections, which were held behind closed doors in Boise and conducted via secret ballots cast by legislators.

Davis credited Mortimer

with delivering a "remarkable leadership speech" to members of the Senate before they voted.

"Dean Mortimer distinguished himself in a profound way," Davis said. "Each person spoke of the importance of helping unify the (Republican Senate) caucus and achieving the goals of a thoughtful caucus."

The majority leader -- sometimes called the floor leader -- is responsible for working with Hill or Lt. Gov. Brad Little to guide legislators through their daily work on the Senate floor. The majority leader makes motions to call bills to the floor for debate and vote and sometimes exercises power by asking for unanimous approval to reorganize schedules, hold some bills up or fast-track others.

During the previous two years, Davis has played a key role, working with members of both political parties and legislative chambers to facilitate adjournment of the session.

Also in the House, Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Jeff Thompson lost his bid Wednesday night to become assistant majority leader to Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa. The three-way race also featured GOP Rep. Lynn Luker of Boise.

Although Thompson and Mortimer failed in their bids to ascend the ranks of leadership, both hold seats on the influential budget panel -- the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

Today at the Capitol, all 105 lawmakers will work out their committee assignments for the next session.