Republicans

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In her 28 years covering Idaho politics, Betsy Russell has never gotten a press release from someone running for a political party chairmanship, until this year.

Normally only the party faithful would even notice the state Republican Party convention, which starts today in Moscow, and lasts all weekend. But this year, the convention and the chairman's race are getting a lot of attention.

Republican incumbents in Idaho are celebrating major victories over Tea Party candidates this week. Gov. Butch Otter and Congressman Mike Simpson both prevailed against challenges to their conservative credentials.

Jim Hadley / Idaho Public Television

Four candidates vying for the Idaho GOP gubernatorial nomination faced off Wednesday evening in their only scheduled debate, tackling the economy, state control of federal lands and the Affordable Health Care Act.

Two-term Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is challenged by Sen. Russ Fulcher, Walt Bayes and Harley Brown.

During the Idaho Public Television debate, Brown colorfully described the group as a cowboy, a curmudgeon, a biker and a normal guy, referring to Otter, Bayes, himself and Fulcher respectively.

Betty Richardson, Jim Weatherby, Ben Ysursa
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Republican Party has dominated Idaho politics for most of its history. In fact, it's one of the reddest states in the country. But it hasn't always been that way. Twenty years ago, Idaho had a Democratic governor.

How Idaho Became A One Party State

May 13, 2014
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Whenever people talk about Idaho politics, chances are someone will say something like “Idaho is one of the reddest, if not the reddest state in the country.” Republicans have been the majority party for most of the state’s history, but until relatively recently, Democrats were also very competitive.

To find out how Idaho became a one party state, take this stroll down the historic road to red.

Idaho’s First 100 Years of Party Politics

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s top education job is up for grabs. That's after Superintendent Tom Luna said Monday he won't run for a third term.

Two Republicans planned to run against Luna in the May primary - north Idaho teacher John Eynon and American Falls principle Randy Jensen. But Luna's announcement that he wouldn't seek re-election could now open the door for more candidates.

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In the congressional fundraising horse race, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson says he outraised challenger Bryan Smith nearly four-to-one in 2013's final quarter.

Smith announced Thursday that he raised $111,066 in the fourth quarter. The money will go to his GOP primary election bid against Simpson, with the vote on May 20.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he brought in $430,000.

In total, Simpson says he raised more than $1.25 million in 2013, with Smith raking in $525,000, including his own money, since joining the race in June.

Idaho Legislature

Update, 4:30 p.m.: Some Republican leaders in Boise have drafted a resolution calling for Rep. Mark Patterson's resignation and may meet on the matter next Tuesday.

Officials in District 15, which Patterson represents, say they're still mulling plans to discuss Patterson's future. Dan Luker, District 15's secretary, said the situation remains "fluid" and that no meeting agenda has been finalized.

AJForIdaho.com

The Idaho Democrats' choice to run for governor was listed as a Republican five years ago.

In 2008, Anthony Joseph "A.J." Balukoff was named as a Republican backer of then-U.S. House candidate Walt Minnick.

Balukoff was among 60 "Republicans for Minnick" during the Democrat's successful run against Bill Sali.

In an August 2008 e-mail from Minnick's campaign, Balukoff topped a group that had "supported the Republican Party with time, with money and with votes. And we will continue to do so in this election and in elections to come," according to the message.

Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's bid for a ninth term got an assist Monday when former presidential candidate Mitt Romney released an endorsement letter.

Simpson faces challenger Bryan Smith in next May's Republican primary election.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, lauded Simpson as a "stalwart conservative leader," accusing what he called "outside" groups of interfering in the race by backing Smith.

Smith has won the conservative group Club for Growth's support in his bid to unseat Simpson.

A group in north Idaho says they’re tired of the Democrat versus Republican national drama.

Democrats, Donkey, Politics
DonkeyHotey / Flickr Creative Commons

Democrats in Idaho are hoping to breathe new life into the party in this overwhelmingly Republican state. Party leaders are hitting the road with an appeal to Latino, gay and lesbian, and female voters.

The head of the Idaho Republican Party is stepping down. 

Joshua Whitworth took over the role about a year ago when then Executive Director Jonathan Parker left to work at the law firm of Holland and Hart. Whitworth came to the Republican party as a former Idaho State University football player and a cattle rancher. He took on the role in July of 2012.

Wednesday the party announced Whitworth was leaving to take a job with the Idaho State Controller's Office.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Republican Party leaders are urging the Idaho Legislature to put a stop to local communities' efforts to provide discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. 

The approval of the non-binding resolution came Saturday at the GOP's annual Central Committee summer meeting in McCall.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

The Republican Party Central Committee rejected a plan Saturday that would ask party officials to vet GOP primary election candidates. The group met in McCall Saturday. 

The plan came from former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, as a way to pressure GOP candidates into adhering more to the wishes of their local party leaders.

But dozens of other Republicans including House Speaker Scott Bedke, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs objected to it.

The Idaho Republican Party’s state central committee will meet in McCall Saturday. Members will talk about possible rule changes and resolutions. One topic up for discussion: the committee will take a closer look at six cities which have passed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) protections.

Courtesy of Sen. Mike Crapo's office

After months of self-examination following last year's election losses, the Republican National Committee released a self-assessment this week.  The R-N-C issued a 100-page report that outlines dozens of recommendations to make the GOP a more welcoming and inclusive party.

The report says Republicans "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform," and reach out to Hispanics.

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador joined the GOP's biggest stars Thursday morning as thousands of conservatives and tea party activists gather near Washington DC.

The Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, offers Republican leaders a high-profile stage to talk about issues, including immigration.

Labrador told CPAC members that conservatives need a grander vision for immigration reform.  He laid out a three-point plan.

Mallory Benedict/PBS Newshour / Flickr

Thirty-two Idaho delegates are in Tampa this week for the Republican National Convention.  The list includes some well-known names, like Governor Butch Otter, U.S. Senator Jim Risch and former State Republican Party Chairman Norm Semanko.  Delegates are hosted at parties and attend special meals put on by interest groups.  But it’s not all fun and games.  David Adler directs the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State.

Samantha Wright asked Adler about what it means to be selected as a delegate.

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