Legislators gathered Wednesday and Thursday to elect their leaders and carve up committee assignments, Here is a Valley stock report:
• Up: Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell. He built his cache as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. But Transportation figures to take a lower profile, since lawmakers are in no hurry to talk seriously about finding new money for highway repairs.
No matter for McGee, who moves into GOP leadership as caucus chairman. A move becoming a young, upwardly mobile senator.
• Down: Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. The week’s boldest gamble backfired. He gave up the caucus chair to seek the Senate’s highest leadership post, president pro tem. Brent Hill of Rexburg got the job. No longer in leadership, Fulcher’s consolation prize is a vice chairman’s spot — albeit on the powerful State Affairs Committee.
• Up: Four new leaders. In addition to McGee, four other Valley lawmakers have spots in leadership: Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, assistant majority leader; Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, assistant minority leader; Rep. Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, assistant minority leader; and Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, minority caucus chair.
Small-world alert. In 2003, Winder ran for Boise mayor. Cronin worked on Dave Bieter’s successful campaign. Probably not significant in the slightest. Just interesting.
• Up: Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise. Serving his first term, Toryanski landed a plum assignment on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.
• Up: Reps. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, and John Vander Woude, R-Nampa. Both landed spots on JFAC. A win also for the Valley, which will hold five of 20 seats on JFAC, up from just three in 2009 and 2010. JFAC won’t be a fun job in 2011, but at least the Valley will be well-represented.
• Down: Rep Cliff Bayer, R-Boise. He lost a challenge to House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star. He also lost a JFAC seat. It could have been worse: this cerebral number-cruncher trades one wonky gig for another, as he joins the crucial House Revenue and Taxation Committee.
• Down: Rep. Robert Schaefer, R-Nampa. He has been elected to a 14th term, so he gets love from his constituents. Not so from House leadership. Schaefer lost his chairmanship of the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee. After 26 years in the Statehouse, he didn’t even land a vice chairmanship.
Lest you think vice chairmanships are tough to get, consider this: Even Rep. Phil Hart, R-Hayden, managed to land one — in between appearances before the House Ethics Committee.
More reading: Here are links to the Senate committee assignments and the House committee assignments. And here are links to some blogging on the leadership moves from the Statesman's Dan Popkey, IdahoReporter.com's Brad Iverson-Long and the Spokane Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell.