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As Attorney General candidates prepare to debate, Idaho GOP says it’s neutral, despite chairman’s comments

The Idaho Republican Party has issued the following statement:

“In response to an article that came out Thursday morning that quotes Chairman Barry Peterson as stating a personal affinity for a candidate in the Republican primary, the Idaho Republican Party reiterates that the State Central Committee of the Idaho GOP has not made any endorsements of primary candidates.

"The view that was expressed in that article was my own, and not that of the Idaho GOP," said Chairman Peterson. "There is a hard fought primary taking place, and everyone is going to have to pick a candidate when they vote. But because of my role as chairman of the party, I should not have shared my personal opinion publicly. This in no way changes the neutral role or function of the Idaho GOP office and staff during the primary."

The statement comes in response to an Idaho Statesman article by Dan Popkey today in which Popkey detailed a clash between Peterson and Gov. Butch Otter at a Lincoln Day banquet in Wallace on April 11; Otter confronted Peterson over news that the party chairman had threatened two precinct committee candidates for seeking the offices, including contacting their employers; Peterson denied it. That comes amid a fight over the low-level posts between dueling wings of the Idaho GOP, with mainstream Republicans seeking to take the party machinery back from tea party backers.

In the article, Peterson had this description of the encounter with Otter: “I don’t give any ground and he doesn’t, either. We’re just two old men that have no reason to back up.” Peterson also told Popkey that he’s backing GOP primary challenger C.T. “Chris” Troupis over GOP Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. “I can’t hide my affection for Chris Troupis,” Peterson said; Popkey’s full report is online here.

Tonight, Wasden and Troupis face off in a debate that's being broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television as part of the "Idaho Debates." It's the first of nine set between now and the May 20 primary; the Idaho Debates are co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho. Tonight's debate starts at 8 p.m.

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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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