House Speaker Lawerence Denney convened the House one last time Thursday morning, then handled the gavel he’s wielded for six years to the man who made history in replacing him.
Scott Bedke, a seven-term Republican from Oakley, defeated Denney, R-Midvale, Wednesday night in a secret-ballot closed-door caucus.
Denney worked the House through its first 15 minutes of business.
As the certificates of election from Secretary of State Ben Ysursa were read by House Clerk Bonnie Alexander for all 70 representives, Denney surveyed the room where he’s presided since succeeding Speaker Bruce Newcomb in December 2006. Denney had a wan smile, but showed some nerves as well, calling Alexander the “cherk.”
The first order of business – roll call – started with a computer glitch in the House’s electronic voting system, requiring Alexander to call an oral roll. Members then took the oath of office, following Denney’s recitation.
Bedke was nominated for speaker by Denney’s ally, Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who survived a challenge Wednesday. No others were nominated and Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, seconded the motion to make Bedke speaker.
Moyle and Rusche then escorted Bedke to the rostrum, where Denney said, “Scott, would you raise your right hand?” and issued a second oath of office for Bedke.
Denney closed with “So help you God,” and smiled more broadly, handing Bedke the gavel and his lapel microphone.
As Denney descended the dais, Rusche offered an empathetic handshake. Minutes later, Denney, as a senior member, choose a cherished seat near the door, next to the traditional speaker's spot where Bedke will sit when he’s not presiding.
After the seating was completed, Rusche rose and said, "I'd like to take this opportunity to offer my respects and thanks to the former speaker for the service he gave to the House."
The House offered a hearty, 30-second standing ovation.
The balance of the day will be spent allocating committee chairmanships and assignments.