Staff writer Erica Curless reports from Sandpoint the Idaho GOP has a new leader and a new direction on how to vote in primaries, the result of a dramatic convention that revealed the division of the party and perhaps a straying from the GOP establishment
In an upset Norm Semanko, a Kootenai County native who now lives in Eagle and ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2006, was elected party chairman Saturday in a vote of 227-169 by secret ballot, which the delegation demanded to remove any potential retaliation in the high-profile race. Semenko promised to uphold conservative Republican principles.
Initially Sen. Bart Davis of Idaho Falls, who was elected to run the convention, refused to reveal the vote count Saturday night, but reversed his decision after ousted party Chairman Kirk Sullivan gave him the go ahead.
The vote directly went against Gov. Butch Otter and other party establishment who supported the two-term chairman and former Boise Cascade executive and lobbyist. After the vote, Sullivan told supporters he planned to largely withdraw from politics.