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Replacements?

If Dorothy Moon wins another term as chair of the Idaho Republican Party, it will be without the help of Bonneville County Republicans.

That’s because the central committee’s leadership team, which includes Doyle Beck and former congressional candidate Bryan Smith, were thrown out on primary election night and a new slate of officers will move in after reorganization this week.

The immediate focus of the leadership team will be to restore peace and harmony to the central committee. In mid-June, during the state party’s convention in Coeur d’Alene, the group will be leading the charge to remove Moon as the GOP’s leader. At least one state representative thinks that a change is inevitable.

“She will not be returning as the party’s chairwoman, and I think she knows that,” said Rep. Marco Erickson of Idaho Falls, who was re-elected to a third term in the Legislature and won a precinct position as well.

Predictions can be perilous in a state convention, where mood swings can change rapidly. But Bonneville County is a traditional Republican hotbed and delegates there can have a big say over who runs the party and how the platform reads. If the statewide turnover rate of precinct positions is anything like Bonneville County’s, then Moon’s chairmanship may end.

Erickson and friends in Bonneville County would have no trouble getting support from the likes of Gov. Brad Little and Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke – assuming that they bother showing up to the convention. They are no fans of Moon, or her brand of leadership.

So, we’ll see what happens in the Lake City rumble. To borrow from the late sports announcer, Keith Jackson, this should be “a real slobberknocker.”

Meanwhile, the post-election celebrations continue in Bonneville County, where six incumbents who were reprimanded in some form by the central committee, easily won re-election. According to Erickson, the party’s more moderate faction now holds 40 of the county’s 53 precinct posts.

“The central committee had zero influence,” Erickson said. “Every candidate they have endorsed in the last two years has lost, with the exception of one state race. In Bonneville County, voters paid attention to the negativity they were spreading, and they didn’t like it. To lawmakers, they tried to call us names – like RINOs or Democrats. No, we’re all Republicans.”

Rep. Wendy Horman, a co-chair of the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, said that primary voters sent a strong message.

“The message is that we (legislators) are more in touch with voters than the central committee. Voters spoke loud and clear that they don’t care for DC-style campaigning and they want to be the ones to hold their legislators accountable,” she said. “All six of us were brought under that inquisition process, and all of us won.”

The other winners included Sens. Kevin Cook and Dave Lent and Reps. Barbara Ehardt and Stephanie Mickelsen, who the central committee tried to bar from running on the Republican ticket.

“I don’t think they (the central committee) had the influence they thought they had,” Mickelsen said. “I think you will see a more collaborative relationship between legislators and the central committee … without feeling that we’re in front of a jury trial, and without being with someone who is trying to reprimand us. We can have a good conversation, without kangaroo courts or trying to take away the ‘R.’ It has been a difficult situation for a long time with the legislators and the central committee.”

Erickson says the central committee will have a new direction – one that supports Republicans and does not choose winners and losers in a primary campaign. Erickson says that as a precinct officer, he plans to support all Republican candidates – even those he might not like.

“If you are the Republican candidate, then you will be treated well,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve felt confident that the central committee will not have a side agenda, or not having some puppeteer pulling the strings.”

One of the first orders of business for the revamped central committee, he says, will be to reverse the reprimands against his fellow legislators.

“Hopefully, there also will be an apology,” he said.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com

 

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