An important sideshow to the race for House speaker is the contest for the No. 2 post, held by Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who may have a challenge from the No. 4 House GOP leader, Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts of Donnelly.
I was in Sun Valley Monday for the annual meeting of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. A morning session with the IACI board featured all eight GOP leaders from House and Senate, along with House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairwoman Michelle Stennett of Ketchum.
The seating arrangement was telling. Three-term Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, sat with Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, six seats away from his challenger, House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.
Bedke was seated between Moyle and Roberts, and chatted with both men. I never saw Roberts and Moyle interact, though Moyle has said they talked on the phone after Roberts overcame a $5,000 campaign contribution from Moyle aimed at defeating Roberts in the May 15 primary.
The four House leaders chose different tables for the luncheon, which featured a speech from Gov. Butch Otter.
I interviewed Moyle and Roberts late last week. Roberts is assessing whether he can unseat Moyle at December's organizational session, where the newly elected GOP House members will decide whether to rearrange the four-member leadership team that's been in place for six years.
Roberts told me he is eyeing the majority leader and assistant majority leader posts. "I'm not running for caucus chair and I'm not running for speaker," he said. "That's all I'll say."
Said Moyle: "Right now, I'm running for majority leader. Things are pretty fluid. We've got five months. We'll see what happens. I don't know what Ken's doing."
One insider told me that Roberts should challenge Moyle for whatever post Moyle seeks. In the past, Moyle has aimed to be speaker, but appears to have lowered his sights to hanging on to the No. 2 spot. "If I were Roberts I'd run against Moyle wherever he was. Moyle's wounded."
My guess is Roberts won't take on Moyle unless the race is a lock. Moyle's skills as majority leader are formidable and this is a group that's worked well together in the past. Forgiveness may be in the cards, even though the hard feelings have surfaced publicly.
Late in the 2012 session, Roberts told Moyle he was likely to challenge him, in part because of a bitter disagreement about a bill to allow Boise County to raise property taxes to pay a legal judgment.
As a reminder, here's what Moyle and Roberts had to say last month about their feud:
“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 said Moyle's effort to oust a member of the GOP leadership team was a shock. “That kind of action in a primary election is unprecedented,” he said.
You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.