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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Republican rift escalates as panel elects officers, Peterson refuses to recognize vote

The row between Barry Peterson — who insists he remains Idaho Republican Party chairman over the objections of Gov. Butch Otter and the Republican National Committee — and others in the party escalated Wednesday night when the party's Executive Committee elected interim officers, Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports.

Peterson said early Thursday that he was unaware of the meeting, Popkey writes, which was described in an Wednesday night email by GOP general counsel Jason Risch, who has opined that the chairmanship has been vacant since the state convention adjourned Saturday without electing officers.

"I was in the office all day yesterday and nobody came to the office and said a word to me about the meeting," Peterson said, adding that he did speak with Risch about a Thursday night Rules Committee meeting. Risch, however, said Peterson was informed. "Barry was absolutely invited to the meeting, he was on all the email notices, in fact I personally talked to him yesterday afternoon about it," Risch told the Statesman Thursday.

Risch's Wednesday email says eight of the 12 Executive Committee members met and voted to retain four officers but not a chairman: First Vice Chairman Mike Mathews, Second Vice Chairman Todd Hatfield, Treasurer Chris Harriman and Secretary Marla Lawson. The four represent both the party's tea party and establishment wings. "The appointment of these individuals allows the day to day operations of the Idaho Republican Party to continue including the filing of the election (finance) reports," Risch wrote. Popkey’s full post is online here.

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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