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Semanko won’t seek another term as GOP chairman, defends redistricting move, touts party successes

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko has sent out a guest opinion defending his attempt to try to fire GOP redistricting commissioner Randy Hansen, touting the party's Idaho electoral successes and announcing that he won't seek another term as party chairman. Semanko wrote that the “secret to our success” was that “the grassroots of our Party was motivated and energized to recruit candidates and support them because they were included, and we weren't shy about standing up for our core, conservative Republican principles.” He wrote, “As I conclude my four year tenure as Chairman and hand the reins over to someone else at the Republican State Convention in Twin Falls this summer, this will be my proudest accomplishment.” Click below to read his full guest opinion.


Opinion Piece Submitted by Chairman Norm Semanko

A lot of false information has been presented in the media regarding my desire to remove my previous appointee from the Redistricting Commission. It has been suggested that this is an attempt by right-wing extremists to control the Party and the State. Even wilder speculation has suggested that Republicans are in danger of losing their majority status. Let me set the record straight with a few facts. 

First, let me be clear about why I felt the need to remove Randy Hansen from the Redistricting Commission, and let me be very clear that it had nothing to do with his perceived political leanings. After all, I did appoint him to the Commission. Unfortunately, the Redistricting Commission that Hansen served on approved a map that was ruled unconstitutional by the Idaho Supreme Court. Additionally, the map they approved invited charges of gerrymandering as it appeared to favor special interests. Furthermore, the county that led the successful lawsuit to have the map declared unconstitutional was his own county of Twin Falls. After receiving numerous phone calls from Twin Falls County residents and folks from all over the State, asking me to appoint a new Commissioner, it was only after much thought and deliberation that I decided to ask for Randy’s resignation. Given the circumstances, I thought this would be a fairly simple and straightforward matter, but he chose not to resign. I did, in fact, ask for his resignation because I firmly believed that it was in the best interest of the State to appoint a new commissioner to move the process orward, and to follow the guidelines that are outlined by the State Constitution.

Second, regarding the baseless claim that the Idaho Republican Party is in danger of losing its majorities, I suggest we look at the facts. The 2010 election cycle proved to be the most successful election in the proud history of the Idaho Republican Party. In fact, more than any time in recent history, the Idaho Republican Party played a major role in delivering Republican victories across the board.  The 2010 election cycle witnessed the State Party spend over $1.3 million on television ads, mail hundreds of thousands of campaign mail pieces, recruit and train a record number of candidates, open field offices and hire field staff, drive record numbers of early and absentee voting, and much more. The results speak for themselves: Governor Otter handily defeated his Democrat challenger by 26%, improving on the single digit victory four years earlier; we helped reelect all of our State and Congressional incumbents by large margins; we reclaimed the first Congressional District from Democrat Walt Minnick; and we picked up five seats in the Idaho legislature — in traditionally challenging areas like Coeur d'Alene, Lewiston, Boise and Pocatello, no less – increasing our majority to 85/105 seats, or 81% of the State Legislature. Not bad, considering the liberal media consistently proclaimed the end of Republican dominance in Idaho when I was elected as Chairman in 2008.

I would also like to point out the secret to our success: the grassroots of our Party was motivated and energized to recruit candidates and support them because they were included, and we weren't shy about standing up for our core, conservative Republican principles. The fact that I was Chairman isn't as important as the fact that it happened. As I conclude my four year tenure as Chairman and hand the reins over to someone else at the Republican State Convention in Twin Falls this summer, this will be my proudest accomplishment.

We are an open and inclusive party and welcome any Idahoan who is fed up with Barack Obama’s disastrous policies to join us in our efforts to get this great nation back on track, and although I am sure the liberal media and our detractors have already written it off — here’s to victory in 2012 and making Barack Obama a one-term President!


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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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