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High-profile Idaho Republicans speak out against GOP proposals, as party leaders gather to vote

The Idaho Republican Party logo hangs outside the door to the Idaho Republican Party primary celebration on May 17, 2022.
Otto Kitsinger
The Idaho Republican Party logo hangs outside the door to the Idaho Republican Party primary celebration on May 17, 2022.

A group of five Idaho Republican legislators has come out against proposed GOP rule changes they say will harm young voters and party leaders.

Idaho GOP party officials will vote on23 proposed rulechanges and 26 proposed resolutions, during this weekend’s Idaho Republican Party state central committee meeting at Living Waters Ranch in Challis.

Two of the proposed rules drew opposition from five GOP legislators — Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa, and Reps. Kevin Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs; Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello; Jeff Ehlers, R-Meridian; and James Petzke, R-Meridian.

One of the party’s top officials also spoke out this week, in a published commentary, against the proposed rules and other recent changes within the party.

“Most Idahoans don’t realize the gravity of several proposed rules being voted on this weekend,” wrote Daniel Silver, first vice-chair of the Idaho Republican Party. “They risk further fracturing our party. They will take power away from Idahoans and give it to a select few.”

The first proposed rule: a GOP purity test

One rule would make it so that voters who are affiliated with a different political party could have to wait for more than two years after affiliating with the Idaho Republican Party to vote in a Republican primary election.

The proposed rule states that voters must be affiliated with the Idaho Republican Party by Dec. 30 each year to vote in the next year’s primary election. But if a voter was affiliated with a different political party any time within the 12 months prior to changing their affiliation, they would need to wait an additional 12 months after Dec. 30 to affiliate with the GOP. The same proposed rule also would allow GOP county central committees and GOP legislative committees to determine party affiliation and make endorsements in county and legislative races, respectively.

In a joint letter they publicly posted Wednesday night, the five Republican legislators said the proposed rule would counteract efforts by young Republicans working on college campuses and in churches to court first-time voters who registered with the Democratic Party. Those young party volunteers are trying to persuade such voters to switch their affiliation to the Republican Party.

In their letter opposing the rule, the five Republican legislators said Democrats are already more effective at registering young and first-time voters. This proposed rule change could limit how converted new voters are able to participate in the Republican Party, they said.

“By placing a 25-month restriction for Republican affiliation, the current rule will effectively eliminate any success made on campuses, churches, and in our communities with students and young families. We are essentially telling our young voters they are not able to participate in our primaries for potentially up to four years,” they wrote in the letter.

Proposed rule: Remove voting power from young, college and women GOP groups

Another proposed rule would stop the Idaho Young Republicans, Idaho College Republicans and Idaho Federation of Republican Women from voting on party matters as members of the Idaho Republican Party’s executive committee. As of now, each group’s leader has a voting seat on the committee; the rule would make them non-voting members.

“It takes effort to keep younger voters engaged. We can attest to that as five Young Republican legislators,” the legislators wrote in Thursday’s joint letter. “While these rule changes may look good to some on the surface, we are certain they will have unintended consequences that will negatively impact Republican prospects for the future.”

The Idaho GOP has considered versions of the proposal before — tabling it in January for consideration at this summer’s meeting. Those backing the proposal argued that the groups shouldn’t have a vote on the party’s core committee because they aren’t elected by party delegates, but rather by their own group members.

Tracey Wasden, president of the Idaho Federation of Republican Women, told the Idaho Capital Sun after January’s GOP winter meeting that Republican women of Idaho worked hard for the party and contributed nearly 44,000 volunteer hours in the last election cycle.

“Over 50 years ago, they put the women, the Idaho Young Republicans and the College Republicans on the executive board back when we were not considered a red state,” Wasden told the Sun at the time. “And we helped turn that around.”

According to the Idaho Republican Party’s website, party leaders who are eligible to vote on the rules and resolutions this weekend will include:

  • voting members of the state executive committee
  • county Republican Party chairs
  • state committeemen and state committeewomen
  • the state youth committee person
  • legislative district chairs

Among the other rules and resolutions up for consideration this weekend is a proposal to hold a new presidential caucus on the first Saturday in March of a presidential election year — if the Idaho Legislature does not act by Oct. 1 to restore the presidential primary that it unintentionally eliminated earlier this year. There is also a competing proposed rule to create a new Republican state presidential preference convention.


This story was originally publishedby the Idaho Capital Sun.