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Idaho GOP rules committee votes no on proposal to further restrict primary process

The proposed rule was a response to talk of Democratic or unaffiliated voters registering as Republicans in order to vote in Idaho's only closed primary election.
Credit: KTVB

BOISE, Idaho —

Back in 2011, Idaho lawmakers made it so anyone who wanted to vote in a primary election had to be a registered member of the political party that they are voting for. 

Ahead of the Idaho Republican Party's winter meeting, some members proposed a rule change that would have changed who is eligible to run in the Republican primary election in Idaho.

The proposed rule would have given the Idaho Republican Central Committee (IRCC) the power to decide who represents the Republican party on the November general election ballot, rather than leaving it entirely up to registered Idaho voters in the primary election.

The IRCC is made up of 210 people, representatives from each county and legislative district in Idaho. 

The proposed rule said that  "any Candidate seeking the Republican Nomination for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction or Controller shall first obtain an endorsement for such office from the State Central Committee of the Idaho Republican Party." 

The rule also would have extended to Idaho’s: U.S senators and representatives, state legislature, county sheriffs, clerks, and most other elected positions.

On Friday, at the Idaho Republican Party's winter meetings, the Rules Committee voted unanimously to defeat the proposed rule change.

Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna also said the following in a news release:

"After intense coverage from members of the media and passionate debate from members of the Standing Rules Committee, the proposed rule was defeated unanimously. Although, many members acknowledged the legitimacy of concerns regarding unaffiliated candidates and voters disingenuously interfering in the affairs of the Idaho Republican Party, ultimately, the committee concluded that the proposed rule change was too restrictive of a solution.

"The Idaho Republican Party today reaffirmed its fundamental commitment to the principle that the selection of Republican nominees is best left to the wisdom of Republican voters," Luna said in conclusion.

Before Friday's vote to reject the rule, controversy about the proposal within the central committee was evident.

“It tells when a political person is so afraid of their opponents, they don't want the people to decide,” said Terrell Tovey, a member of IRCC. “They want a small group of people to remove their opposition so they may have a clear path for the Republican Primary.” 

KTVB also reached out to state committeeman, Doyle Beck, who is one of the committeemen submitting the rule change. Beck confirmed that the document is legitimate. He would not speak to us on camera but did send us a response via email. 

“The primary selection is to find the best Republican Candidate(s) possible to challenge the other best Party candidate possible.  The 210 people you referred to, are all elected precinct committeemen or leaders elected by the precinct committeeman. This is all very grassroots that can be more easily replaced by the populace if they don't like their decisions." 

The resolution also says that the Republican party has the right to choose its preferred nominee. 

“They were voted in to represent their constituency. Not to hold a vote of these elected offices,” Tovey said. “Effectively what they want to do is remove the primary altogether. They don't want to have a primary” 

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