Majority Leader Mike Moyle and GOP Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts dont appear to have reconciled after their feud boiled over last month.
Appearing together on the same dais in Sun Valley on Monday, the pair were separated by Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, playing the role of older brother keeping up appearances before the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.
Remember, Moyle gave $5,000 to a political action committee that attempted to defeat Roberts in the May 15 primary. Roberts called the move unprecedented.
Moyle, the No. 2 leader, said Roberts, No. 4, had it coming because he told Moyle he planned to challenge him when the new Legislature organizes in December. My goal is to make Kens life miserable because hes making my life miserable, Moyle said last month.
Both men looked plenty miserable Monday as they spoke to Bedke, but not one another. When they broke for lunch, all four House GOP leaders chose separate tables for Gov. Butch Otters speech.
Roberts, R-Donnelly, told me last week that hes aiming to move up to assistant leader or majority leader. Replacing No. 3 leader Bedke, R-Oakley, who is challenging House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, would likely be an easier step for Roberts. Whatever his flaws, Moyle, R-Star, is a talented floor manager. With roughly 30 new members in a 70-member House, continuity might be at a premium.
Roberts could take the safer route, but one insider told me, If I were Roberts, Id run against Moyle wherever he was. Moyles wounded.
Why does all this intrigue matter outside the Statehouse?
Speakers drive the agenda in the House by appointing committee chairmen, assigning bills to committees, deciding when bills will be debated and even killing measures singlehandedly. The leaderships relationship with the Senate and the governor influences policy. Otters attendance at a Bedke fundraiser last week might have signaled approval, though Otter denies meddling in House affairs.
Under Denneys leadership, the House was cool to Otters signature issue of his first term: boosting transportation funding. A change at the top could shift that dynamic and rearrange priorities. The other three leaders often work as lieutenants to the speaker, though the group under Denney fractured this year.
At Mondays IACI conference, both Roberts and Moyle played to the business group. Roberts urged IACI to pitch ideas on regulatory reform. What is costing you business and what is driving the cost of doing business up? Roberts asked. Moyle said prospects for IACIs top priority repeal of the $129 million personal property tax are better than ever and called the idea my favorite.
But the more important audience was the folks with the votes in the GOP caucus. IACI invited 22 prospective House Republicans, both incumbents and candidates for open seats.
Roberts could make the organizational session still more interesting if he convinces Otter to appoint him to the State Tax Commission. Its something that Ive been asked to consider doing, Roberts said.
If Roberts moves on to a full-time state job, that doesnt mean Moyle gets a pass. Im told someone else will challenge him for majority leader.
Meanwhile, at least eight House Republicans are considered candidates for the No. 3 and No. 4 jobs, assistant majority leader and caucus chair. All attended the IACI conference; some brought their spouses.
On the list of known prospects are Reps. Eric Anderson of Priest Lake, Brent Crane of Nampa, Reed DeMordaunt of Eagle, Marc Gibbs of Grace, Steve Hartgen of Twin Falls, Christy Perry of Nampa, Jeff Thompson of Idaho Falls and John Vander Woude of southwest Ada County. A ninth possibility, Rep. Rich Wills, R-Glenns Ferry, wasnt in Sun Valley, but could be a sleeper candidate.
Denney and Moyle say its too early to say how the races might play out. Things are pretty fluid, said Moyle.
Denney said he feels no disrespect as his underlings jostle to ascend. Ive been speaker for six years, he said. Theyre anxious to do something else. So it doesnt really surprise me at all.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics