Republican leaders in Idaho on Saturday dumped a plan calling for party officials to vet GOP primary election candidates. The rejection came at the Republican Party Central Committee’s summer meeting in McCall, where the state’s dominant political group was setting its policy direction for the year to come. The proposal was 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, on grounds that it would put decision-making in the hands of just a few people and disenfranchise broader GOP voters.
“It’s important that whenever it comes up, it be defeated, and that the Republican Party state that it isn’t in favor of closing Republicans out of elections,” Loebs said in an interview, adding that those against the plan need to remain vigilant. “None of us can predict when or how or where a bad idea is going to come up. Ideas don’t die, it could come up again.”
It was clear the idea wasn’t popular with many Republican elected officials who control all statewide elected positions and 81 percent of the Legislature.
About 60 leaders from around the state, including more than 30 GOP lawmakers and numerous county elected officials, wrote a letter distributed to attendees at Saturday’s meeting at McCall-Donnelly High School urging them to shelve the plan.