By the close of the Idaho GOP state convention today, members had adopted a platform with a new loyalty test for candidates, a provision recommending Idaho withhold taxes from the federal government, a bid to limit marriage to "naturally born" men and women and an admonishment to Idahoans to stock up on gold and silver. Participants said it's the Democratic administration in Washington, D.C. that's pushing Idaho Republicans to the right; click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.
GOP: Obama, Pelosi, Reid push Idaho to the right
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press Writer
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Republicans at the 2010 state convention said their shift right this weekend has its roots not just in homegrown GOP ranks, but in the man many in Idaho's dominant party see as their arch political enemy: President Barack Obama.
Add a healthy dose of Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Idaho GOP leaders say there's a trifecta of villains in Washington, D.C., to rally against. That has the state party's most-faithful hewing even more closely to their conservative roots.
Take the party's new platform, updated Saturday to include a loyalty test for candidates, a provision recommending Idaho withhold taxes from the federal government, further efforts to limit marriage to "naturally born" men and women — even a GOP-sanctioned admonishment for residents to stock up on gold and silver to gird against the ravages of U.S. dollar inflation, should it come to that.
"It does reflect a change," said Rep. Marv Hagedorn, a GOP legislator from Meridian and a delegate. "But it's not a change in our party, it's a change in the White House."
Saturday's meeting, with red-meat speeches by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, drew to a close the third and final day of the state Republicans' biennial confab where more than 500 delegates set their philosophical underpinnings through 2012.
Their message was clear: The Beltway is the root of all evil, leaving the task of propping up the Republic to Idaho residents in places like Montpelier, or Rupert, or Bonners Ferry, or Island Park.
"As bad as you think Washington is, it's worse," Risch said, calling it a haven for "mindless spending."
"The solutions are not in Washington," he said. "The solutions are here with you."
Two years ago, the convention in Sandpoint was a divisive affair, with newcomers to party politics made up of supporters of libertarian-leaning Texas congressman Ron Paul in the 2008 presidential election encountering stiff, sometimes acrimonious resistance from traditional Idaho Republicans.
These newcomers ousted then-Chairman Kirk Sullivan, replacing him with Norm Semanko, who won re-election Saturday.
But two tea party movement backers, Marla Lawson for secretary and Todd Hatfield for second vice chair, were installed on the party's executive committee, giving the conservative wing of the party more clout.
By this weekend, this group was and ready to consolidate its power — and dictate the philosophical terms by which Republicans in the state will live by for the next two years.
Those terms now include a recommendation to revise Idaho's Constitution to give Idaho the right to take over federally managed U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management territory.
"We are better stewards of our land than the bozos on the East Coast," said Bill Roberts, a GOP delegate from Boise County.
Again and again, the federal government was on the receiving end of criticism.
"Washington, D.C., is literally stealing the dreams of our children, right before our eyes," Idaho public schools chief Tom Luna told a receptive crowd.
Though Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter Friday neglected to mention U.S. House hopeful Raul Labrador during his speech — the GOP governor later insisted it was an oversight, not a snub of a guy with whom he's had disagreements — speakers Saturday including U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson wholeheartedly stumped for Labrador, an immigration lawyer and state representative from Eagle.
Simpson urged everybody — even those living in eastern Idaho, far outside the 1st Congressional District in the western half of the state — to give money to Labrador to help him unseat first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick. Labrador struggled to raise money during his primary against Vaughn Ward, winning only after the better-financed Ward's repeated campaign flubs.
"If we can't win back Idaho's 1st Congressional District, we probably can't take Congress," Simpson warned.
If hardcore conservatism was the star of the 2010 GOP convention, Labrador was the runner-up.
He strode onto the podium to chants of "Labrador, Labrador, Labrador."
Even though Minnick has broken with his party repeatedly on votes on President Obama's health care reforms, cap-and-trade energy legislation and the 2009 stimulus package, Labrador contends his rival's most-important decision was to choose Pelosi as House Speaker — and believes Minnick would do it again.
"We must remove Minnick from Congress," Labrador said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.