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Eye On Boise

Grant urges Dems, independents not to register GOP, Semanko defends closed primary

In messages ahead of tomorrow's first-ever closed Republican Party primary in Idaho - and the Democratic primary, which remains open to everyone - the chairmen of Idaho's Democratic and Republican parties have issued statements. Idaho GOP Chairman Norm Semanko defends the closed primary, declaring, "We will have the right to select candidates who represent our values without interference from other parties or special interest groups for the first time in nearly 40 years." You can read his full statement here.

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Larry Grant, meanwhile, is urging against calls for Democrats and independents to register as Republicans and vote in the GOP primary. "If Republicans want to fight it out for control of the Republican Party, then so be it.," writes Grant. "I have no reason to try to fix that. If they throw all the moderates out of their party, then I welcome them into mine." Click below for Grant's full statement.

A Message from IDP Chairman

I will not register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary and I hope no serious Democrat or independent will either.

           A number of Idaho’s pundits have suggested that Democrats and independent voters should register as Republicans now that the Republican primary is closed and only declared Republicans can vote in it.  The rationale tend to be that Democrats and independents could thwart extremists in the Republican party—who battled to close the primary—by simply registering as Republicans and voting in the Republican primary anyway.
            I disagree with their conclusion because it assumes that Democrats and independents have some reason to fix the Republican Party.  Anyone following Idaho politics knows there is an internal struggle in the Idaho Republican Party.  In fact, over the last few years, the entire party has been pushed to the extreme by the Tea Party and other ultra-conservative factions. Today,  hardly any Republican candidate is willing to stand up and say, “I am a moderate.”
            Of course, extremists in the Republican Party sued to close their primary so they could purge their party of RINOs, that is “Republicans in Name Only.”  The argument that they closed the primary so Democrats could not cross over and affect the outcome of Republican primary races was largely fictitious.  I mean, if Democrats were crossing over in the past, it certainly didn’t work and clearly did not get more Democrats elected.
            The purge, however, became more evident last year when Republican legislators who voted against the Luna education bills were stripped of committee assignments or otherwise punished.  Now, as we learn from recent campaign finance reports, Republican legislative leaders are also working to have those so-called moderates booted out of office in their primary this time around.
            The purge was also apparent during the first redistricting commission when the Republican appointees refused to compromise, not because they worried about how Democratic districts might be drawn but because of how some Republican districts would come out.  In short, they wanted to put moderate Republican legislators in tough districts.  That first commission deadlocked, not because Democrats were fighting Republicans, but because Republicans were fighting Republicans.
            If those examples don’t convince you that the extremists in the Republican Party are winning, then look at the Idaho Republican Party Platform.  There you will find a plank to repeal the Seventeenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.  That would mean that our United States Senators would be elected by the Legislature rather than by the popular vote we use now.  Really?
            If Republicans want to fight it out for control of the Republican Party, then so be it.  I have no reason to try to fix that.  If they throw all the moderates out of their Party, then I welcome them into mine.       

Larry Grant

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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