UPDATED, 8:40 p.m., Denney says he contributed for polling, voter ID and get-out-the-vote, and didn't know his friend, Lou Esposito, had targeted GOP incumbents. "I have never, ever gotten involved in any races involving senators," Denney said. "As far as the House members, I think it's poor form to work against incumbents in the primary."
For more, read Wednesday's story in the Statesman.
Thanks to the keen eye of Twin Falls Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin , two years of simmering rumors have been confirmed: House Majority Leader Mike Moyle and Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts aim to knock one another off.
Davlin reports that Moyle, R-Star, contributed $5,000 from his campaign account to GUN PAC, a political action committee targeting Roberts, R-Donnelly. GUN PAC has endorsed Roberts’ opponent in the May 15 primary, John Blattler of Boise County. A third Republican in the race is Dan Davis of Cascade. The winner faces Democrat Karla Miller of McCall in December. Today is the deadline for campaign finance reports, but Moyle filed early.
House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, also has contributed to GUN PAC, said Lou Esposito, a consultant to the PAC who is close to Denney. Esposito said Denney is supporting efforts to unseat Roberts and five other GOP incumbent lawmakers.
Denney is backing candidates "to build a conservative majority in the House."
Denney has said he intends to seek a fourth two-year term as speaker at the December organizational session. I couldn’t reach Denney Tuesday morning, but the mutual support of GUN PAC by Denney and Moyle suggests Moyle has abandoned any prospect of a run against Denney this year.
Davlin wasn’t able to reach Moyle yesterday, but I spoke with him this morning. Moyle said Roberts told him after the 2012 session ended March 29 that he planned to oppose him in December when the GOP caucus elects leaders. Moyle also said Roberts campaigned on behalf of Boise Rep. Cliff Bayer’s unsuccessful challenge to Moyle as majority leader in 2010.
Eight days after the session ended, Moyle made his contribution to GUN PAC.
“My goal is to make Ken’s life miserable because he’s making my life miserable,” Moyle said. “We’re still friends; we just don’t agree politically. If he wants to take me out I’m going to do the best I can do to get rid of that threat. He’s made it very clear that I’m in his sights.”
Roberts disputes that he campaigned for Bayer in 2010, though he declined to say how he voted in the majority leader race. But he said a dispute with Moyle over a bill allowing a property tax levy to pay for a legal judgment against Boise County caused a rift this session.
"I told him that it was likely I would challenge him if things like that continued," Roberts said.
Roberts also questioned Esposito's characterization of Denney's support for Blattler. "That needs to be verified. As far as I know I can trust Lawerence. He's been a dear friend of mine for a long time."
GUN PAC has made 40 endorsements, including five more primary challengers to GOP incumbents: Maurice Clements over Sen. Patti Anne Lodge of Huston, Matt Dorsey over Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa, Danielle Ahrens over Sen. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Pam Stout over Rep. George Eskridge of Dover, and Douglas Pickett over Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert.
Moyle said he wasn’t aiming at the other incumbents. “My goal is Ken Roberts,” he said.
Ironically, the House Leadership Victory Fund, a leadership PAC for which Roberts is the treasurer, gave $10,000 to GUN PAC, which has targeted Roberts.
Esposito, who was Denney’s appointee to the first Redistricting Commission in 2011, also is consulting with two other PACs producing direct mailers in GOP primary contests, Land PAC and Free Enterprise PAC. A fourth group, Idaho Chooses Life, is opposing GOP incumbents including Sen. Lodge and Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, who faces incumbent Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, because of redistricting.
Esposito said he is cooperating with Idaho Chooses Life’s director, David Ripley, a personal friend. “On a number of races there is a working relationship,” Esposito said.
The fourth member of House GOP leadership, Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley, contributed $1,000 to the Roberts campaign. Bedke did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
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