As the House prepared for the pomp and ceremony of the opening of the 2013 Legislature Monday, I spent some time on the floor observing and speaking with Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney -- the first Idaho speaker defeated in anyone's memory.
Denney, R-Midvale, spent five minutes in conversation with new Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star. They were laughing, reminiscing and discussing Denney's new role as chairman of the House Resources & Conservation Committee.
Afterward, I gingerly approached Denney, suggesting it can't be easy to have lost his post in such a high profile manner. His answer surprised me:
"It's not hard, either," he said, with a broad smile and a lightness of tone I'm not accustomed to with Denney. "I have a lot less responsibility and it's actually quite relaxing. Yes, I don't get to call all the shots, but sometimes its not easy to call the shots."
He said the floor conversation with Bedke was the first they'd had since Bedke's win a month ago. "I've always appreciated Scott," Denney said. "Scott is a very bright guy."
Denney added that he'd considered not running for a fourth term as speaker, but decided to go ahead.
So I asked, "Would it be too strong to say that you're relieved not being speaker?"
Replied Denney: "I am relieved. We're moving on to other opportunities. And I've offered to help Scott in any way that I can because I know it's going to be rocky for him."
Late this morning, I spoke with Bedke, relaying Denney's comments.
Bedke seemed pleased with Denney's positive state of mind and then said with a laugh, "I suspect that some of the phenomenon that's adding to his relaxation is adding to my angst."
Asked to elaborate, Bedke said the administrative aspects of the job, particularly at the start of a new Legislature, was taking a good deal of time.