The Idaho Republican Party’s central committee, at its winter meeting over the weekend, voted to do away with a 2011 party rule that required all candidates to vow compliance with every plank of the party platform, and required the party chairman to monitor that compliance and publicly report on any lapses. It was known as the party’s “loyalty oath” provision.
“It was a bad idea when it started, and it’s not ever been actually even imposed,” said Grant Loebs, the Twin Falls county prosecutor and legislative District 24 chairman for the Idaho GOP, who successfully proposed striking the rule. “It would cost a lot of time and money for anybody to do that kind of monitoring, which of course is what the voters do when they go to the polls. As written, that rule pitted the Republican party leadership against elected officials, it made for a lot of bad blood between them, especially if it would have been enforced.”
He added, “I have no problem with the platform being the general statement of what we as Republicans believe in, and even pointing out specific things that we’re for or against, but when the entirety of a long platform like that becomes a litmus test, then I think you are in danger of narrowing the party considerably, and making it very difficult for many people to be elected who support every single thing that’s on there.”
The Idaho GOP central committee also considered 13 proposed resolutions; nine were approved by its resolutions committee, and six passed the full central committee, but all with amendments softening some of the harsher language initially proposed. Proposed resolutions backing changes in the legislative committee process cleared the resolutions committee but failed in the full central committee.
The successful resolutions include a call for defunding Planned Parenthood; a call for halting all refugee resettlement until security and economic issues are examined; opposition to the Paris climate change agreement; support for transferring federal public land to states; a resolution critical of banks; and a call for legislation to allow a precinct committeeman to be removed for malfeasance or nonfeasance.
Loebs said even as the rules committee debated the elimination of the loyalty oath, “The discussion was very civil.” Overall, he said, “I think it was a good meeting where, by and large, people came together in a spirit of getting the party health and getting ready for the next election cycle.”