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Eye On Boise

Of Libertarians and closed primaries

Here’s an oddity: Idaho Ron Paul supporters, led by former state Libertarian Party chairman and marijuana-legalization activist Ryan Davidson, have joined up with conservative Rod Beck’s bid to oust state GOP Chairman Kirk Sullivan at next weekend’s state GOP convention in Sandpoint (click below to read AP reporter John Miller’s full story). Beck, of course, is the one who’s led the effort to force Sullivan into moving to close Idaho’s Republican primary elections to all but registered Republicans. So why would supporters of Paul, a Republican congressman who was the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1988, want to close Idaho’s GOP primary, particularly when some feel a closer affinity to the Libertarian Party? “We’re looking for someone who’s philosophically more similar to our way of thinking than Sullivan,” Davidson said. “I just feel that with the closed primary rule, you may get more libertarian-leaning Republicans elected. If Libertarians register as Republicans, they can help send more libertarian Republicans to the general election.”

Davidson says he’s a Republican now. “I mean, my philosophy is still 100 percent libertarian, but … I think the term ‘Ron Paul Republican’ is kind of going to be the new term du jour. … Unfortunately, the Libertarian Party’s been around for 30 years and it just hasn’t been able to make the jump into the mainstream consciousness as a viable political alternative.” He said, “I looked at the Republican Party as, if it’s bad, it’s only because there are bad people in it, and if we replace bad people with good people, and if we replace moderates and so on with libertarians and conservatives, then the Republican Party will be something we can be a part of.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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