TWIN FALLS, Idaho -- The Idaho Republican Party elected a Mountain Home hardware store owner to lead the state's dominant group ahead of November's big ballot fight over education reforms.

Barry Peterson was selected as chairman by Twin Falls' convention delegates, over charter school activist Gayann DeMordaunt from Eagle.

Peterson replaces outgoing chairman Norm Semanko.

The 64-year-old Peterson was described by backers as an example of rural Idaho's conservative roots.

DeMordaunt lost, despite having big Idaho Republican names behind her.

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and public schools chief Tom Luna backed her bid.

The last time a woman chaired Idaho's GOP was in the 1970s, when Marjorie Miner of Silverton headed the party.

Peterson said among his first tasks will be choosing a new executive director to run the Idaho GOP's day-to-day affairs.

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