Idaho’s newest state legislators are being welcomed at a reception in the fourth-floor rotunda of the state Capitol, and then, lawmakers will split up into party caucuses for leadership elections tonight.
So far, the only announced leadership challenges are at the lower levels of the House leadership: Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, is challenging House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, and Rep. Greg Chaney, R-Caldwell, is challenging House Majority Caucus Chairman John VanderWoude, R-Nampa. House Democrats will see changes with the defeat in November of House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston; Assistant Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, appears likely to take over. Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, is running for Erpelding’s former position, and Reps. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, and Hy Kloc, D-Boise, reportedly are vying for the caucus chair position previously held by Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding, who retired.
Each house’s minority and majority caucus is meeting tonight for its closed-door sessions at a different location; House Republicans will be at Crane Creek Country Club and House Democrats will be at Bardenay’s Boiler Room; while Senate Republicans will be at Angell’s and Senate Democrats at Mai Thai.
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said even with no leadership challenges in the works, her six-member caucus will meet and hold full discussions ahead of tomorrow’s organizational session, and the January start of the next legislative session. “It’ll be the first time we’re all together,” she said.