MOSCOW, Idaho –The Idaho state Republican Party’s convention in June might be moved from Moscow after a conflict arose between the leader of the state’s dominant political party and a local GOP official.
Idaho Republican Chairman Barry Peterson and Latah County Republican Chairman Walter Steed clashed Tuesday during a meeting, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported Friday.
Consequently, a telephone conference for GOP leaders across Idaho is scheduled for next week to discuss whether to stick with plans to hold next summer’s event at the Kibbie Dome or seek out an alternative location.
Peterson said Steed’s behavior, coupled with concerns over the convention’s organization and cost, has thrown the event’s locale into uncertainty. He said he was rebuffed Tuesday when he tried to speak at a Latah County GOP meeting.
“I just wanted to make myself available to them with the intent of trying to have a smooth working relationship regarding the upcoming convention to be held next summer,” Peterson said. “On any given issue, if two people at the table are probably going to have two different opinions, that’s just part of life, but even if you can’t get along with the individual, you have to have some type of respect for the office, and that didn’t happen.”
There’s underlying friction between many conservatives in Idaho’s GOP, a faction Peterson belongs to, and more moderate members like Steed.
In early 2013, for instance, Steed, who is also a member of the Moscow City Council, came under fire from fellow Republicans over his stance favoring stronger background checks for gun owners, limits on access to high-capacity magazines and the number of guns a person can buy at once.
Contacted by the Daily News, Steed insisted the convention is on track to post a profit.
He added that Peterson wasn’t allowed to speak because the agenda for the meeting had already been set – and Peterson never asked to be included on it.
“I was frankly surprised,” Steed said. “We already had a full agenda, and although we could have changed it, he needed to let me know that he wanted an amount of time.”
Rod Beck, the top Republican official in Ada County, said from what he’s heard of Steed’s treatment of Peterson, he would support a recommendation from the chairman to move the convention to a different city.
In a conciliatory note, Steed now says he’ll resign from the convention committee, in hopes his presence won’t be a hurdle to the event going forward in his city.