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Eye On Boise

Tue., June 10, 2014, 4:29 p.m.

State GOP gears up for convention, website crashes…

As Idaho Republicans gear up for their state party convention in Moscow later this week, the state party’s website has crashed; it’s been down all day. “We’re working on it, trying to fix it,” said state party intern Hunter Jungeneerg. “The registration is already closed for the convention this week, so it’s not going to affect that at all.” Though online registration is closed, people can still register at the door for Thursday night’s dinner featuring Mike Huckabee, Friday night’s keynote address from Sen. Rand Paul, and other convention activities, Jungeneerg said.

The website wasn’t hacked, he said. “They’re thinking that when they went to shut down registration, they shut down the whole website.” The convention runs through Saturday in the Kibbie Dome in Moscow; it’s ground zero for the fight between two deeply divided wings in Idaho’s Republican Party, with establishment Republicans working to take the party machinery back from a tea party wing that’s been ascendant since 2008. Committees on everything from credentials to resolutions will start meeting on Friday, with the big decisions Saturday including the party platform and who should be the next party chairman.

Idaho GOP activist and former Senate majority leader Rod Beck said he’ll be attending the convention, but for the first time ever won’t be a delegate. That’s because of something of a coup in the Ada County delegation, over which Beck and supporters are planning a formal challenge on Friday, urging the credentials committee not to seat the county’s delegates. “I’m still region chairman until June 13th – that’s when our reorganization is up there,” Beck said. “And I’ve let it be known that I’m not interested in another term, so there will be a new region chairman for Region 4.” Asked why, he said, “I’m a practical person.”

Beck said, “Unless the credentials committee decides to remedy the wrongs of the Ada County Central Committee … I’ll just be an observer, I suppose. I’ll talk to people and stuff, I’ll attend the social functions.” Click below for a convention preview from Associated Press reporter Kimberlee Kruesi.

Idaho GOP convention to kick off Thursday 
By KIMBERLEE KRUESI, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Uniting the Idaho Republican Party will be the central theme this week as hundreds of GOP delegates travel to the northern region of the state to discuss party platforms and elect the next state chairman.

The three-day convention, which will take place in Moscow, Idaho, comes a few weeks after the May primary that pitted established candidates campaigning against tea party favorites and revealed fractures inside the party.

Delegates from both sides of the traditional establishment and tea party forces are expected to have lively discussions on possible amendments to the party's more conservative planks such as returning to the gold standard and repealing the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and returning to the appointment of U.S. senators by state legislatures rather than direct election.

Re-opening Idaho's closed GOP primaries could also be considered. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter opposes the closed primaries —which bars voters from participating in the GOP primary unless they declare party membership— and has said he wants them open with the hope it will improve voter turnout. However, that will take the approval of the state central committee, whose membership will be determined the final day of the convention.

Republicans will also vote on a state party chairman, who will serve a two-year term. At least three names have emerged as top contenders for the seat. Those include current chair Barry Peterson, who is seeking a second term; Blackfoot sheep herder Mike Duff; and Premier Technology President Doug Sayer, who is also from Blackfoot.

Each county and state legislative district sends at least three delegates to the convention, with more being voted in depending on how many voters showed up in the last congressional election.

The convention headliners include former Arkansas governor and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who kickoffs the event Thursday. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who is rumored to be a potential 2016 presidential candidate, will speak at Friday's dinner.

Copyright 2014 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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