Ben Ysursa, the state's top elections official, said Tuesday that the man who oversees Ada County elections is the best choice in a four-way Republican primary to become Idaho's next secretary of state.
Deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane unveiled that key endorsement during a noon announcement in the Statehouse Rotunda, citing Ysursa as a model for "protecting the integrity of the process and the systems that serve us."
Ysursa, who is retiring at the end of the year after three terms as secretary of state and 28 years as a deputy to Pete Cenarrusa, said he has a deep attachment to the department and a keen interest in who will lead it in the future.
"This is about a positive campaign and this is about a positive person," Ysursa said, calling McGrane the best person to carry on the office's "reputation of fairness, efficiency and service."
He cited the deputy county clerk's experience in all aspects of elections and a legal education that could serve him well on the Land Board, where the secretary of state holds a seat.
"I believe Phil McGrane possesses the competence, integrity and character to lead the secretary of state's office into the future," Ysursa said.
McGrane's boss, Ada County Clerk Chris Rich, kicked off Tuesday's announcement by saying McGrane has "the strength of character to enforce Idaho's election laws. He knows how to say no." Rich is one of four county clerks co-chairing McGrane's campaign.
All of the other candidates for secretary of state have legislative backgrounds. Vying with McGrane for the GOP spot on November's ballot are Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, and former state senators Mitch Toryanski of Boise and Evan Frasure of Pocatello. The lone Democrat running for the post is Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise.
Around 100 people, most wearing McGrane stickers, turned out for Tuesday's announcement.