The House has passed the new version of the closed-primary election bill, HB 351, on a 51-16 vote. House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “As I see it, this is a bill that was created behind closed doors by Republicans to address an internal squabble within the Republican Party.” No consideration was given to other options, he said, like a “top two” primary system similar to Washington's.
Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, said, “I think we should not go on to do something that is unconstitutional.” She said, “This is what we have offered here. We have to do something, so let's support the bill.”
House Speaker Lawerence Denney, in his closing debate, said, “I think it's a good compromise. I might also say that 32 states have party registration and state-funded primary elections. So I think this is a determination of whether or not we are going to continue with a primary system at all.” All 13 House Democrats voted against the bill; they were joined by three Republicans, Reps. Julie Ellsworth, R-Boise; Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls; and Tom Trail, R-Moscow.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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