On July 16, the Idaho Republican Central Committee essentially voted to call Idaho’s Republican governor a liar. In its annual meeting in Moscow, the committee approved a resolution questioning Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s Project 60 economic development initiative and whether it was a front for illicit Chinese control of Idaho’s economy.
That sort of tripe is par for the course in the current Idaho Republican Party. What’s remarkable is that Otter didn’t respond more forcefully.
If something similar had happened during the administrations of former Govs. Jim Risch, Dirk Kempthorne or Phil Batt, state GOP Chairman Norman Semanko would have found himself sitting the governor’s office and having a very bad day.
Not on this governor’s watch.
Otter lost his well-regarded Department of Commerce director, Don Dietrich, who announced this week he’s leaving in September. In the John Birch Society-fueled fantasy that was behind the “China beachhead” resolution approved by the state GOP central committee, Dietrich was cast as the chief enabler of Chinese infiltration.
Dietrich, who played a major role in steering C3’s call center and its 900 jobs to Twin Falls, certainly has better career options than being a Bircher dartboard. He’s a former executive with Aspen Technology and Cargill Inc.
But how long is this governor going to let himself and his administration be whipsawed by the extremists who control the state GOP?
Otter’s entire persona — dating back from his days as a maverick libertarian legislator from Canyon County in the 1970s — has been public accountability. He prides himself on being a stand-up guy.
So it’s long past time he told the flat-earthers who hijacked his party in 2008 where to get off.
By attracting C3, Don Dietrich and Project 60 were partly responsible for pouring more than $22 million directly and $20.7 million indirectly into the Twin Falls area economy. What have the Birchers done for us lately?