Bedke says he might consider higher office

For now, Idaho's first-year House speaker is happy where he is.

(TWIN FALLS) TIMES-NEWSJune 17, 2013 

A lot could happen before House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, faces another vote from his caucus on whether they want to keep him in the job.

ASHLEY SMITH / TIMES-NEWS

OAKLEY - Watching House Speaker Scott Bedke drive his Ford F150 around Oakley's quiet streets, you wouldn't know he was one of the most quoted men in Idaho for the first three months of the year.

The time after the close of the 2013 legislative session has given Bedke a chance to reflect on how he did during his first term as speaker - and to think about the future.

Does that future include a run for higher office, such as governor or Congress?

"You never want to rule anything out," he said, noting that he's not ruling it in, either. "But before I did, I would like to have my son out of college."

Bedke didn't specify what office he'd pursue.

"We'll see," he said. "You can't plan these things."

Bedke wouldn't be the first Idaho House speaker to reject retirement. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, went straight from being speaker to serving in Congress. Speaker Pete Cenarussa went on to serve as Idaho's secretary of state, and C.A. Bottolfsen eventually became governor.

Simpson said that a year before running for the U.S. House, he wouldn't have even considered a congressional bid. He thought about running forgovernor until Dirk Kempthorne threw his hat in the ring, he said.

For now, Bedke said he's glad to be in the Idaho Legislature.

As he drives from field to field on his land, he wears his Bluetooth headset around his neck, keeping him constantly in contact with his secretary, lobbyists, reporters and other lawmakers. He answers the phone while driving among the heifers and calves, and switches seamlessly between talk about the cattle industry, insight on the Legislature and Oakley history.

Life hasn't changed much in the five months since he became speaker. There are more invitations to attend events, both in and out of state, and increased media queries. But otherwise, his days are still filled with meetings, checking on cattle and watering fields, just like before.

Bedke said he's satisfied with the way his first term went and how he did. The House dealt with a lot of difficult issues, and almost half of the representatives were freshmen. Many of the committee chairmen were new.

The divisive health exchange debate caused issues within the caucus. Though the bill passed, more Republicans voted against it than for it.

Does that spell trouble for Bedke when he runs for speaker next year? It's in the back of his mind, he said, but not the forefront. "It can't be," he said.

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