The Idaho GOP kicks off its annual convention Thursday. Delegates from across the state have come to Pocatello to discuss the party platform and prepare for the November election. Friday evening, they’ll hear from Oliver North, incoming president of the National Rifle Association.
On Monday, KBSX’s Will Reid spoke to GOP chairman Jonathan Parker about last May’s primary, the convention and Oliver North.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Q: I want to start with the Republican primary. I think it’s fair to say the race was hotly-contest. Going into this weekend, does the party feel unified or is there more work to be done?
A: Obviously, it was sometimes heated and arguably the most hotly contested, most money spent, election in a primary in many years, and possibly an election that will be the biggest primary election in Idaho in a generation. But personally I believe that competition is a good thing in the primary, and one thing I know the party is really good at is rallying behind our nominees after our champions have been chosen. Heading into the convention, that’s exactly what we plan to do.
Q: It came as a surprise to some that Brad Little, the more moderate Republican candidate, won the primary. Does this signal a shift in where the party’s politics are heading?
A: If you look at the candidates across the spectrum who won the Republican primaries, I think you see a very diverse group of nominees, and I think that’s something that is a good thing. Diversity as well as nominees that reflect all sides of the political spectrum. I don’t know that one election is indicative of where the party is headed. But I can say that we at the Idaho Republican party, we do have a platform that we stand behind, and we will be rallying behind all our nominees against the Democrats in November.
Q: We’re doing a series right now on growth in Idaho. How do you think growth will impact the politics of the state?
A: There’s definitely growth and definitely younger people moving to the state, which we are of course extremely excited about. But we believe that many of these people moving to Idaho are moving here because of conservative policies in place. They want to be here because of a friendly business environment, and they’re fleeing states that may not be friendly to businesses and liberties and freedoms. A lot of these folks are political refugees moving to Idaho to share in our conservative traditions and policies.
Q: Your speaker this weekend is Oliver North. How does he speak to the values of the Idaho Republican party?
A: I think the biggest draw is the fact that he is the incoming president of the National Rifle Association, something that really gets our delegates and members and supporters throughout the state to come hear from him and hear what he has to say and what we can do in Idaho to ensure our Second Amendment rights are protected moving forward.
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