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The strategy by conservative hardliners to close the Idaho GOP primary may have backfired.
A popular, well-respected second-term North Idaho lawmaker barely squeaked through the GOP primary against an unknown newcomer. But that’s how politics work these days in heavily GOP but still much-divided Kootenai County.
Much is at stake in Idaho’s May 15 primary election, from hotly contested county races to every seat in the Legislature. Because Republicans so completely dominate state politics, many of those races will be decided in the primary. But this year, for the first time, only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary – and more than a third of Idaho’s voters identify themselves as independents. Add to that primaries that draw low turnouts, redistricting that’s added to voter confusion by shifting many into different districts with unfamiliar candidates, and the lack of a presidential primary, since both state parties already handled that with caucuses, and “you could have a weak fringe candidate win in a primary like that,” said Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor of public policy and longtime Idaho political observer.
BOISE – Say you’re an Idaho voter who wants to cast a ballot in next year’s primary election for Sarah Palin for president, or Mike Huckabee, or Mitt Romney. In a state that’s never had party registration, you could be in for a surprise at the polls, where voters will be required to become party members – or they might not get to vote in anything but nonpartisan judges’ races.
BOISE – Gov. Butch Otter has signed into law historic changes in Idaho’s election system, requiring, for the first time, that all Idahoans declare their party affiliation to vote in the state’s primary election. “I felt that that was a compromise effort between the House and the Senate,” Otter said of the closed-primary bill. “With the judge’s ruling, there weren’t very many other alternatives that we felt could meet constitutional muster.”
BOISE – Idaho lawmakers rushed through a bill to pay $100,000 to the Idaho Republican Party – to which 81 percent of them belong – in the final days of this year’s legislative session, to cover the party’s attorney fees in its successful primary election lawsuit against the state. Though it’s not uncommon for prevailing parties to get their legal fees paid in a federal civil rights case, what’s unusual is how the Idaho GOP set up its fee arrangement with its attorney – a rare “contingent fee” deal in which only the taxpayers would have to pay, not the party, regardless of the outcome.
Idaho lawmakers rushed through a bill to pay $100,000 to the Idaho Republican Party - to which 81 percent of them belong - in the final days of this year's legislative session, to cover the party's attorney fees in its successful primary election lawsuit against the state.
BOISE – Legislation to require Idahoans to register by political party and allow parties to close primary elections to all but party members ran into trouble in a House committee Tuesday after flying through the Senate with the backing of top GOP legislative leaders. “I think it is a fundamental shift in election policy, and I have some questions about this bill that I need answered,” said state Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa.
Legislation to require Idahoans, for the first time, to register by political party and allow parties to close their primaries to all but party members ran into trouble in a House committee this morning, after flying through the Senate with the backing of top GOP legislative leaders.