McCall • A candidate shouldn’t need GOP leaders’ approval to get his name on the Idaho primary ballot, a state GOP rules committee decided yesterday.

The subject was discussed at length during Idaho’s Republican Party Central Committee summer convention here.

Region 4 Chairman Rod Beck had proposed the rule change to help vet GOP candidates who may hold values different from those of the Idaho Republican Party. The change would have applied to congressional, state and county positions.

“Are we, as a party, going to be pamphleteers for politicians? Or or are we going to be a party?” Beck asked. “This rule does not suggest there is a limit to primary elections, it simply says the governing bodies have the opportunity to look over candidates.”

Committee members voted the proposal down, but five members voiced support for Beck’s idea.

Several members pointed to their own legislative districts, citing known Democrats running as Republicans in order to win office.

“I think it’s about time that we start vetting candidates,” said Sandy Skinner, Region 3 committee member. “I truly believe this is something worth looking at.”

Viki Purdy, the state GOP rules committee’s vice-chairwoman, said the proposal may not be perfect, but it addresses a growing problem in Idaho.

GOP legislators are ignoring party beliefs, she said, citing state Republicans’ failure to present a bill last year opposing a state-based health exchange.

“The party has been completely ignored by the Legislature,” she said. “I don’t have the money to go against (Blue Cross of Idaho lobbyists). If our elected officials would go against us, what’s next? The Second Amendment is the next step.”

State Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, said the committee made the right decision in rejecting the proposal.

“I was expecting and hoping it (rejection) would pass, and it did,” he said. “This was a step too far.”

While Beck remained optimistic that the proposal would pass, he said it was good that the committee was open to debating its merits.

“You can’t do something like this overnight,” Beck said. “I think we need to have this discussion.”

Before voting on Beck’s proposal, the committee also rejected a proposal to reopen Idaho’s closed GOP primary elections.

Two years ago, the Idaho GOP began requiring voters to declare their party affiliation in order to vote in the primaries. The change had taken almost six years, with a federal court battle that ended in favor of the closed primary.

Idaho voters only now are getting used to a closed primary, said Neil Oliver, Region 1 committee member. Getting rid of it now would be a waste of party resources.

“The purpose of the Republican primaries seems to be straightforward,” he said. “It seems confounding that we would want someone from the outside voting for our candidates.”

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