Over his years of service to the people of Idaho, many other public servants have come to know Rep. Lawerence Denney. They each have a unique story to tell, so here they are, in their own words.
Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador
Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane
Reps. Linden Bateman, Idaho Falls and Rich Wills, Glenns Ferry
“He has such a good manner with people,” Bateman said. “There’s nothing pretentious about him. He has a great knowledge of the law. He served in leadership, knows people and is a good manager. His knowledge of resource issues would serve him well on the Land Board.”
Wills expressed similar sentiments. “He has strong leadership qualities and always worked to be part of the solution. He included a lot of people in discussions and he was willing to listen to everyone.”
Rep. Gayle Batt, Wilder
Earlier in this session, one of Denney’s potential opponents presented a bill for consideration. Batt and others were asking Denney, who chairs the House Resource and Conservation Committee, what should be done with that bill.
“His response was, ‘Whatever is fair, that is what we should do,’” she recalled. “Nothing is ever about Lawerence and it never has been. It’s always about doing what’s right.”
That was his mode of operation as Speaker of the House, where Batt said he was “an incredible leader of our party. He was always fair and is absolutely a God-fearing man. He’s the type of leader I’d want to be some day.”
In Batt’s view, fairness and integrity are exactly the qualities needed for the Secretary of State’s office, which works with political candidates of all parties.
“I look at it from a slightly different angle,” she said. “I’m not looking at specifically running the office, at which he would do a wonderful job; I see it as absolutely necessary that he’s on our State Land Board. I don’t see anyone on the Land Board who is as strong as Lawerence would be as a protector of not only state lands, but for private property rights.
“He understands resource and water issues, which is necessary to being an effective member of the Land Board.”
House Asst. Maj. Leader Brent Crane, Nampa
Crane did not support Denney in the first go-around, opting instead to support a candidate from his home district in Canyon County. Denney won that contest, but did not hold anything against Crane going into his freshman year in the Legislature. “That impressed me,” said Crane, a longtime family friend of the Denneys, going back to when Crane’s father, Ron, ran for State Treasurer. “We worked on issues important to Idaho. He gave me committees that were important to me and my district. And when Bill Deal took his position with the Department of Insurance, Lawerence gave me Bill’s position on State Affairs.”
What was perhaps more interesting to watch was how Denney handled his narrow defeat for the speakership in 2012. Denney was named chairman of the House Resources and Conservation Committee. “He didn’t sit back. He took an aggressive approach to protecting our public lands,” Crane said. “That type of attitude reflects well on him and that experience will serve him well as Secretary of State.
“I’ve seen him when he has had success and when he has had failure and the grace and dignity he has shown both times,” Crane said. “You can tell a lot about an individual in those circumstances.” Denney’s even-handed and even-tempered approach is exactly what is needed for the Secretary of State’s office, according to Crane. “He’s very easy to work with; he does not put on pretense; he’s approachable; he approaches his job with good common sense; and he’s humble,” Crane said.
“Those are the characteristics that make a good leader. “He has my endorsement and full support for Secretary of State.”
Rep. Judy Boyle, Midvale
Both served three terms as Speaker of the House, but the similarities don’t end there.
“Lawerence would be very fair … much like Pete Cenarrusa, who was extremely fair and helped everyone,” Boyle said. “It’s the same with Lawerence. He doesn’t care if you have money, or if you are Joe Blow from Custer County.
“Pete was really good on the Land Board and Lawerence would be awesome on the Land Board,” Boyle said. “He understands natural resources extremely well. He understands that government should not own businesses and compete with private enterprise.”
When it comes to Lawerence Denney, Boyle has no shortage of expertise. She’s a longtime family friend, who lives about a mile from Denney’s Midvale home. The children grew up together, participating in many of the same activities such as baseball and 4-H. Denney and Boyle also serve as State Representatives for District 9. “He’s a good neighbor, and that means a lot in Midvale,” Boyle said.
Denney, as House Speaker, was well known for being the voice of calm during the most hectic times of legislative sessions. “He’s just the calm ocean,” Boyle said. “No one was ever afraid of Lawerence; his door was always open. He’s the nicest man, perhaps, that any of us have ever known.”
“Quiet” and “gentle” are not always terms that would describe those in leadership positions. But Boyle says there’s a reason why Denney was successful with those qualities. “He’s so calm, I think, because he has such faith,” she said. “The Bible and Constitution are his guiding documents, in that order.”
Rep. Tom Loertscher, Bone
“People talk about him ruling with an iron fist? I didn’t see that side of him,” Loertscher said. “In fact, he didn’t like to do anything without the support of other members of leadership. Sometimes I thought he was a little too gentle. “His style was pretty laid back,” he said. “Over the time he was speaker, we had one of the best leadership teams we’ve ever had – and that was the result of his leadership style,” Loertscher said. Loertscher had a close working relationship with Denney during his time as speaker.
“There was a feeling of mutual trust. We could talk frankly about the issues. Lawerence didn’t always do what I wanted him to do, but he was reasonable in listening to me and what I wanted to accomplish,” Loertscher said.
“I would rank him as one of the top ones,” Loertscher said. “We have a very good speaker now; all had their strengths and all had different styles. But I’d say that Lawerence was one of the top ones.”
Denney’s qualities make him well suited to serve as Idaho’s Secretary of State. “He has a broad understanding of election laws and issues that come before the Land Board, which is a huge plus.”
House Maj. Leader Mike Moyle, Star
“You want somebody like that as Secretary of State – someone who is level headed and makes sure things run smoothly,” Moyle said. “You don’t want somebody who will be a ‘yes’ man to everybody. You want somebody who is independent enough to step back and realize what needs to be done and to do the right thing.”
Moyle thinks that Denney will be a staunch advocate for people’s voting rights and integrity in elections, given Denney’s support of measures, such as requiring voters to show identification at the polls. “He gets criticized for that, but that’s a mistake,” Moyle said. “I think people should show identification to prove who they are. Voting is sacred. Why should somebody unqualified be allowed to vote? That only dilutes your vote.” Moyle says Denney knows election laws, and will enforce them. “If it’s a bad law, he will say so.”
Denney also will be a welcome asset on the State Land Board, with his deep background in resource issues, and will prevent the state from purchasing private lands. “He realizes that anytime the state buys a building in Ada County, then everybody’s property taxes go up.”
The personal qualities that will make Denney an effective Secretary of State were part of his makeup as Speaker of the House. “He’s a kind man, careful about what he did,” Moyle said. “I didn’t always agree with him, but he always did what he thought was the best for Idaho and I appreciated that about him.”
Sen. Monty Pearce, New Plymouth
Pearce, who has served in the same legislative district with Denney since 2000, has a strong foundation for his prediction. “I have worked with him on a number of issues, and Lawerence has been solid gold,” Pearce said. “I can’t say enough good things about him. I wish all politicians were of the same caliber and cut, because we wouldn’t have the problems we have if there were more people like him. I have tremendous respect for Lawerence. He has been a great friend and he has been a great legislator. “As I look at the legislators over the years, starting with the present, I feel Lawerence has been the fairest of all of them,” Pearce said.
As a Secretary of State, Pearce thinks Denney will be a strong advocate for protecting the integrity of the election system. “We’re watching nationwide as our voting rights are being infringed upon and diluted. We see our national administration that is opposed to voter ID,” Pearce said. “Someone like Lawerence Denney will do all he can to protect the integrity of our voting system. People can get to the polls and vote. But they have to be legal residents, which is what voter ID is all about – and not somebody who wants to vote three times. We’ve seen places where that has happened and I would like to see that Idaho has a secured and protected voting system. Lawerence will do that.”
Pearce see’s Denny’s knowledge of resource issues being a welcome addition to the State Land Board.
“I think he will represent Idaho,” Pearce said. “He’d be fair. He’d make decisions and you would not find him bouncing around. The Land Board has had a struggle the last few years; they haven’t determined what they stand for. I think he’d be a great asset.
Rep. JoAnn Wood, Rigby
“Lawerence was an excellent Speaker,” Wood said. “He’s very even tempered and very thoughtful. If there’s something disturbing to him, he gets to the bottom of it. But he’s very gentlemanly and does so quietly and effectively.”.
Wood, a former chair of the House Transportation Committee, saw how Denney reacted to some controversial issues before her committee. She said Denney gave her plenty of leeway to do her job. Those qualities are certain to carry over if he’s elected Secretary of State, according to Wood..
“He’s a listener,” she said. “He studies issues and knows what to do; he’s a people’s person. He’d see to it that elections were honest and run correctly. He’d be great on the Land Board, because he knows Idaho’s economic conditions.”
Rep. Lenore Hardy Barrett, Challis
“I think he would be excellent in that position, because of my relationship with him over the years and from what I know to be his strong points,” she said. Barrett says the qualities that made him an effective Speaker of the House would carry carry over to the Secretary of State’s position.
“He was an excellent Speaker … always willing to listen. That didn’t mean he would change his mind, but you were always welcome,” she said. “I admired his Christian principles, although we didn’t talk about church or anything like that, but the principles were there and they were obvious.”
As with others in the Legislature, Barrett notes Denney’s ability to stay calm during the most hectic times of a session. “He was always the voice of calm and reason, and he’s still that way as chairman of the Resources Committee,” she said. “He always has that little smile, and it just helps your comfort level.”
On the administrative side, Barrett would expect Denney to carry on with much of what has been established by Pete Cenarrusa, “who was about as good as you can get as Secretary of State,” and Ben Ysursa. “There’s not that much to change,” she said.
Denney’s knowledge about resource issues would be a welcome factor on the state Land Board. “The Land Board is very important to rural areas,” she said. “Denney is a farmer – not that you have to be a farmer to do the right thing, but he certainly is familiar with all the issues. I don’t think he would have voted to have the Department of Lands competing with private industry. The Land Board should not be competing with the private sector.”
Rep. Janet Trujillo, Idaho Falls
“It has been my experience with Lawerence that his leadership came by way to respect,” she said. “As a testimony to his leadership, he was elected by his peers to be Speaker of the House.”
In terms of circumstances, Denney received a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, the fourth highest individual military award given for acts of heroism in a combat zone. “It is my pleasure to personally thank him for defending our country and for his continued service to the great state of Idaho,” she said.
Serving her first term in the House of Representatives, Trujillo did not serve when Denney was Speaker of the House. But she relies on his leadership and calm approach, sitting near him on the House floor. “Working with Lawerence in the state House of Representatives has been one of the greatest privileges of my life,” she said. “I look up to Lawerence and hope to be able to emulate his strength of character and his resolve in constitutional conservatism.”
She enthusiastically endorses him for Secretary of State.