Read through the news summary fast and you might get the impression that a measure passed by the Idaho Republican Party this weekend calling for replacing its presidential primary elections with caucuses might be an extension of the party-limiting wave the Gem GOP has been working on the last couple of years. The party-registration to vote in primary efforts, for example (which is going to go into effect) and the idea of allowing county Republican party officials decision which candidates can go on the ballot in Republican primaries (dropped for now, but it may be back).
The proposal to end Idaho Republican Party use of the presidential primary, and likely cancelling that specific election altogether, is another matter.
Idaho's Republicans have for decades been shut out of the mainstream of party presidential decision-making because their primary election - and it would be costly to hold a separate, earlier one - is held in May, long after the party's nominee is almost certain to have already been determined. Idaho Democrats some years back opted out by holding February caucuses, which have had a little more impact. Idaho's Democrats in 2008, for example, gave an extra boost to Barack Obama at a point when it was useful to him. Idaho Republicans would have been understandably frustrated at getting no similar shot during their own critical contests. Under the proposal endorsed by the party, the Idaho GOP would do what the Idaho Democrats already do, fairly early in the process.
This move may give it to them. It probably means goodbye to the state's long-standing presidential primary. But in the real world, was there a choice?
From the Republican email out on the subject:
“This should be considered an open invitation to all Republican Presidential candidates who are interested in securing the Republican Party’s nomination in 2012,” stated Chairman Norm Semanko. Semanko continued, “The Idaho Republican Party welcomes all Republican candidates to visit our great State, to discuss issues important to Idahoans, and to campaign for Idaho’s 32 delegates to the Republican National Convention.”
The Idaho Republican Party Executive Committee also voted in support of a motion to conduct a Straw Poll in conjunction with the Winter State Central Committee Meeting the weekend of January 6th and 7th in Boise, Idaho. More details will follow in the coming months.