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Sat., June 15, 2013, 7:44 p.m.

Idaho GOP rejects rule to limit ballot access in GOP primaries

Republican leaders in Idaho on Saturday dumped a plan calling for party officials to vet GOP primary election candidates, the AP reports. The rejection came at the Republican Party Central Committee's summer meeting in McCall, where the state's dominant political group was setting its policy direction for the year to come. The proposal was from former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, as a way to pressure GOP candidates into adhering more to the wishes of their local party leaders, but it came under fire from an array of top Idaho Republicans, who said it would put decision-making in the hands of just a few people and disenfranchise broader GOP voters. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

GOP panel rejects plan to vet candidates
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Republican leaders in Idaho on Saturday dumped a plan calling for party officials to vet GOP primary election candidates.

The rejection came at the Republican Party Central Committee's summer meeting in McCall, where the state's dominant political group was setting its policy direction for the year to come.

The proposal was from former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, as a way to pressure GOP candidates into adhering more to the wishes of their local party leaders.

But dozens of other Republicans including House Speaker Scott Bedke, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs objected to it, on grounds that it would put decision-making in the hands of just a few people and disenfranchise broader GOP voters.

"It's important that whenever it comes up, it be defeated, and that the Republican Party state that it isn't in favor of closing Republicans out of elections," Loebs said in an interview, adding that those against the plan need to remain vigilant. "None of us can predict when or how or where a bad idea is going to come up. Ideas don't die, it could come up again."

It was clear the idea wasn't popular with many Republican elected officials who control all statewide elected positions and 81 percent of the Legislature.

About 60 leaders from around the state, including more than 30 GOP lawmakers and numerous county elected officials, wrote a letter distributed to attendees at Saturday's meeting at McCall-Donnelly High School urging them to shelve the plan.

After the vote, Beck conceded the proposal was probably too big a step to take all at once.

"A big change like this is going to take time, if it happens at all," he said.

In trying to torpedo his idea, Beck contends elected officials including Otter were showing their disdain for grassroots Republican Party members at the local and state level — and their ability to responsibly determine just who should be allowed to run for office with the GOP label.

In particular, he's unhappy that during the 2013 Legislature many Republicans in the state House and Senate, as well as Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, supported a plan to create a state-based health insurance exchange.

That's after the state Republican Party Central Committee, as well as some other local and county committees, passed resolutions opposing the exchange on grounds it was acquiescing to a key provision of President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul.

"Enough people expressed enough frustration with policymakers on their complete rejection of Republican Party resolutions, that they wanted to try and do something to get policymakers to consider our resolutions and our platform positions," he said.

Despite failure of this proposal, Beck said he was pleased with other developments at Saturday's meeting.

First, participants rejected outright a plan that would have repealed Idaho's closed Republican Primary, of which he was one of the chief architects before it was instituted during the 2012 election.

And another rule passed, too, he said, that should make Idaho Republican candidates more mindful their own party's platform: Any candidate that refuses to sign a paper saying whether he or she supports the state GOP's guiding political document will see the party's endorsement withdrawn, via a press release from the Idaho Republican chairman.


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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