Republican Leaders Could Get Final Say on Who Runs in Primaries

2013-06-12T03:00:00Z Republican Leaders Could Get Final Say on Who Runs in PrimariesBY KIMBERLEE KRUESI Twin Falls Times-News

TWIN FALLS, Idaho • Running for office as a Republican could become more contentious in the next few months if a proposed rule change gets the state GOP endorsement Saturday.

Under the controversial proposal, a candidate would have to get GOP leaders’ approval in order to get his name on the Republican primary ballot.

The proposal is only one of many changes to be debated at the Republican Party Central Committee’s summer meeting in McCall on Friday and Saturday.

Yet of all the rules to be discussed, this change is receiving the strongest opposition from Magic Valley Republican politicians.

“This is a bad idea,” said Steve Millington, Twin Falls County GOP chairman. “I can understand to some extent why they want to do this. If you want to win in Idaho, you best not run as a Democrat. You run as a Republican ... They want people on the ballot that are bona fide Republicans.“

Region 4 Republican Chairman Rod Beck, who submitted the proposal, said the change would weed out candidates not fit for office or those who didn’t uphold GOP party ideology on a county, state and congressional level.

“I think it’s needed to make the party more meaningful, more accountable and more transparent,” he said. “I’ve been supporting this type of system for a number of years.“

State Rep. Stephen Hartgen, R-Twin Falls, disagrees. He said voters should be able to choose who is fit for office.

The proposal goes a “step too far,“ he said. “I feel strongly that restricting access to primaries in this way is not only inappropriate, but it’s harmful to the party. Voters have shown repeatedly that they can choose.“

Twin Falls County GOP members caught wind last month of a resolution being drafted to require all Republican candidates to receive caucus approval before they could be placed on a primary ballot. Members quickly submitted a resolution to the central committee combating the idea. Their resolution will be considered Saturday.

Rather than submit a resolution, however, Beck submitted a rule change calling for primary candidates to obtain not caucus approval, but rather endorsement from local central committee leaders.

Now Twin Falls County GOP members are circulating a letter explaining why Beck’s change would damage the Idaho Republican Party. They are collecting signatures of support from politicians across the state, said Grant Loebs, Twin Falls County prosecutor and GOP chairman of District 24.

“You have a primary, then you have a closed primary, then you have a caucus system, and then you have the most restrictive thing I’ve ever seen, which is what this is proposing,” Loebs said.

State Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, also said the proposal is troubling.

“These are good people in the central committee, but why would they want that responsibility?” she asked. “And why would they take that from the people? It’s troubling to think of putting that kind of power in so few.“

State Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, said that if the proposal passes, Idaho could face a situation similar to Utah’s. In 2010, the Utah Republican Convention denied a spot on the primary ballot to state Sen. Bob Bennett, though he had held office for almost 20 years and received the endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. That policy remains intact in Utah.

“Bob Bennett had the seniority and all of a sudden, his name is no longer on the ballot,” Heider said. “That is a terrible way to select candidates. You should allow citizens to determine who the candidates are going to be. That’s the way we’ve traditionally done it.”

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(10) Comments

  1. BurleyMan
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    BurleyMan - June 17, 2013 9:49 pm
    The GOP continues to alienate their supporters and then wonder why they lost the last election.

    Really if you pay attention the democrats and republican structure is identical with each only concerned with having enough seats to have or keep control.
  2. UT Delegate
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    UT Delegate - June 17, 2013 7:29 pm
    Utah has a nominating system that should be emulated by the rest of the nation. Bob Bennett was completely out of touch with the grass roots of the UT GOP and he deserved to be retired. Here is a link to a short youtube video that does a good job of education about the Utah Convention Nominating System. Look to Utah Idaho. Eliminate Lobbyists and big money interests in your politics.
  3. utah_1
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    utah_1 - June 12, 2013 3:48 pm
    "“Bob Bennett had the seniority and all of a sudden, his name is no longer on the ballot,” Heider said. "

    That is rubbish. Ten's of thousands of active republicans chose the thousands of state delegates. It was the same system that got Bob Bennett elected. It was the same system that got him unelected. This wasn't a few people deciding Bob Bennett shouldn't be on the Ballot.
  4. utah_1
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    utah_1 - June 12, 2013 3:40 pm
    The 60% threshold Utah GOP and Democrats use to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate.

    Based on the Utah state GOP released stats since 2000 for state wide or congressional races, at 60%, threshold to avoid a primary, 1/2 of contested races went to primary.

    Sen. Hatch just barely missed eliminating Dan Liljenquist by hitting just under the 60%, and Jason Chaffetz just missed eliminating Rep. Chris Cannon by hitting just under 60%.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.
  5. utah_1
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    utah_1 - June 12, 2013 3:28 pm
    re: Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, during the primary they went with Mike Lee.

    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure a grass roots process can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds. We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous. This is a good thing.
  6. utah_1
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    utah_1 - June 12, 2013 3:23 pm
    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.

    There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections. Certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in voter representation.

    There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.
  7. Dave1016
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    Dave1016 - June 12, 2013 9:27 am
    Passing something of this nature leaves us as citizens in a situation that is ripe for abuse and corruption. If this is allowed to happen it completely undermines every citizens right to run for office. This will allow those who with power and money to manipulate those that they think are suited to hold a political position. Even suggesting something like this goes against the principle of what it means to be an American. I believe that if this does go through that you will see Idahoans move from being a Republican state to a more Libertarian state. People want the freedom to exercise their beliefs, and vote the way that they want to vote. They don't want to be limited on their choices who they can and can't vote because of a bureaucracy. Don't give the public a reason not to trust our local politicians.
  8. SKC_ID
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    SKC_ID - June 12, 2013 6:26 am
    Republicans DO stand for liberty, freedom, constitutional rights, etc., etc., etc,.......
    as long as things are done THEIR way.
  9. gdog
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    gdog - June 12, 2013 5:30 am
    Not necessary in the State of Idaho, maybe it's time to let the ideology of the Republican Party evolve and let the voting public decide.
  10. B Har
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    B Har - June 12, 2013 5:25 am
    Wow and I use to think Republicans stood for liberty not fascism. The Republican party already weeds out anyone who doesn't tow the party line. Idaho legislature is way to one sided and has left our state in a mess.

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