Denney, Woodings Touch On Issue Of Closed Primaries During Statewide Debate

Oct 7, 2014

The two candidates running to be Idaho's next Secretary of State faced off Tuesday in a debate hosted by Idaho Public Television.  

State Representative Lawerence Denney of Midvale, a Republican, debated state Representative Holli Woodings of Boise, a Democrat.

In a debate Monday, Denney was reported as saying that primaries should not be run by the state government, but by political parties.  

When asked Tuesday if he wanted to get rid of primary elections, Denney said he'd been misunderstood.  

Denney said primaries aren't really elections, instead they're part of a process parties use to nominate their candidates.  

"We have a long tradition of having the primary and having the ballot, what I am concerned about is having the taxpayers of the state of Idaho actually paying for a party nomination process," he said.

Denney added that parties deserve to choose their own candidates and if independents want to help in that process, they should declare a party before voting. Denney was supportive of a push that closed GOP primaries, starting in 2012. 

Woodings responded by saying the system creates an extra barrier for voters, which lowers turnout at the polls.

"We had extremely low voter turnout in the last primary, some primaries as low as 16 percent," she said.  "To me that's an additional barrier that's put up between voters of Idaho and their ballot."

The winner of this November’s contest will oversee Idaho's election process and business registrations. The secretary of state also serves on the five-member Idaho Land Board.

Denney and Woodings are competing for an open seat.  Current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is retiring.

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