Tea Party II at the interim statehouse in Boise was, by several accounts, lightly attended, but it was a marker of one side of an opposing group: the Idaho House Republicans, who are representative in Idaho conservative circles of more than just themselves. On the other side is Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and another substantial cadre. We'll not get into civil war comparisons here, but there are two distinct sides here, and the sense that there's more to it than just as a disagreement over a few pennies of gas tax.
Now, let's switch to another arena, the presidential.
When the 2008 presidential campaign started to crank up, a large portion - maybe an outright majority, but certainly the largest segment - of Idaho Republicans happily jumped in with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. The upper levels of the state Republican structure was solidly represented in Romney's campaign, until he withdrew. After that, and after John McCain's nomination, the new vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin of Alaska, became highly popular among Idaho Republicans. Maybe Romney's Mormon faith and Palin's Idaho background contributed, but those weren't the only factors behind the support. But they also are highly distinctive personalities, suggesting the question: How could someone be an enthusiastic supporter of both? And what would happen if time came to choose?
Re the latter, here we are. From Politico: "In the latest instance of a high-profile GOP member taking a passing swipe at the party's 2008 vice presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney jokingly dismissed Sarah Palin’s inclusion on Time’s list of influential people in an interview broadcast Sunday. He asked, was 'the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people?'”
And some blowback from the Palin camp.
So, how do Idaho Republicans choose? Or split? And if they split, would the split bear any resemblance to the Otter-House breakdown?