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Eye On Boise

Otter calls Peterson statement ‘a welcome sign, because they were all calling on me to stay out of it earlier’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter talks with reporters in downtown Boise on Tuesday (Betsy Russell)
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter talks with reporters in downtown Boise on Tuesday (Betsy Russell)

Asked today about embattled GOP Chairman Barry Peterson’s announcement yesterday that “one phone call from Gov. Otter is all it would take to end the current division” in the party, calling on Otter to set a new date to replace two dueling dates now set for party central committee meetings to figure out who’s in charge and what comes next, Otter said, “Well, I’ve gotta get a hold of Barry and find out to whom I have to make that call.”

The GOP governor said, “I’ve made some promises to some folks that depending upon the outcome of the phone call, that I’m going to have to at least go back to those folks and make sure that they’ll release me of those agreements. And one is that I’d stay out of it, that I would not choose a candidate. They wanted a grass-roots candidate, I said that’s fine by me.”

Idaho’s state GOP convention ended in disarray last month without any votes on a new chairman, platform, or resolutions, as attendees battled over whether several counties’ delegations should be allowed to participate. Peterson maintains he’s still chairman, but others say his term has ended and the party has no chairman now.

Party rules say the state Central Committee can fill a vacancy, but two competing dates have been set for such a meeting - Aug. 2, set by opponents of Peterson, and Aug. 9, set by Peterson. “I’ll be more than happy to pick a date,” Otter said today, “but I want to know what the chances are of success. You know, if we can come together on the 2nd or the 9th or the 5th or whenever, I’m more than happy to do that. But like I said, I’ve gotta know who to call.” UPDATE: Later on Tuesday, Otter posted a statement on his campaign website saying, “I support the proposal for an August 2 meeting of the Central Committee to choose an Idaho Republican Chairman and put the confusion and uncertainty behind us.”

Asked about Peterson’s call yesterday for Otter to “use his leadership position to insist that one meeting be held for the purposes of reuniting the party,” the governor said, “Well, that’s a welcome sign, and I appreciate that, because they were all calling on me to stay out of it earlier.”

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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