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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Impossible’ to lead: Ada County GOP leaders resign to protest state party’s ‘new oligarchy’

A red carpet, a large GOP emblem and screens displaying U.S. flags welcomed guests to an election watch party held at the Hilton Garden Inn Boise Downtown on May 17, 2022. Republican Party infighting led to six resignations from the Ada County GOP’s central committee.  (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman)
By Ryan Suppe Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Six top members of the Ada County Republican Party, including its chairman, quit Thursday, citing decisions by the state party that have made it “impossible” to effectively lead.

It’s the latest controversy pitting local party leaders against the divisive Idaho Republican Party chairwoman, Dorothy Moon, and her hard-right allies, who have effective control of the state party.

An Ada County GOP news release recited a docket of grievances against the state party, including that it distrusts voters to select candidates and has created a “new oligarchy that values control” and “un-Republican” bullying tactics. Ada County Chairman Victor Miller touted the local party’s fundraising in recent years and successful GOP elections to county officer and school board seats.

“But given the state GOP’s current political climate and direction, it has become impossible to lead in Ada County effectively,” Miller said in the news release.

In addition to Miller, the following local party leaders announced their immediate resignations: first vice chair Megan Reichle, second vice chair Travis Clyde, third vice chair Barrett Tetlow, treasurer David Litster and state committeewoman Kim Wickstrum. The half-dozen party leaders will hold on to their elected precinct committeeman positions, the news release noted.

The Idaho Statesman has reached out to Moon requesting comment.

County officials cite reasons for resignationsSince last year’s convention, when Republican delegates elected Moon chairwoman, the state party has adopted several controversial policies that resigning party officers cited as reasons for quitting. That includes a new rule that voters who previously affiliated with another party must wait a year before registering as a Republican. The Ada County officers called the rule a “purity waiting period” that will limit the party’s growth.

They also pointed to a rule adopted in June that gives central committees the authority to censure elected Republicans who stray from the party line. The officers said the “tribunals” allow party members to censure candidates and strip them of party support.

Hard-right local parties this year delivered a series of censures to Republican lawmakers who opposed legislation that would have allowed parents to sue over “harmful” library materials or banned drag shows on public property.

“The state party no longer embraces grassroots voters and candidates but has created a new oligarchy that values control, ‘purity testing,’ and bullying tactics that are un-Republican,” the Ada County officers said in the news release. “The energy of the party is more about infighting than collaboration – more about beating each other than beating Democrats.”

The infighting escalated to the courts last month, when the Bingham County Republican Central Committee sued the state party in an attempt to stop it from overruling the county party’s election of a new chairman.

The Ada County leaders also decried the Idaho Republican Party’s collection of local party dues, a practice that’s “widely rejected in Republican state parties throughout the United States.”

“We can no longer support this system,” they said. “We hope that when the state GOP’s intentions and tactics are fully brought to light, the ship can be ‘righted’ to include all Republicans and to return power to the voters and the counties.”