Kermit Kiebert of Ponderay, a former Democratic state senator, voted in the May 15 Republican primary, supporting GOP legislators facing right-wing challengers.
Margie Watson who once served as mayor of Parma, a nonpartisan post also voted GOP to support a challenger to Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth.
Corey Smith of Idaho Falls voted Republican as well, although he describes himself as an independent.
Wasnt Idahos closed GOP primary supposed to put a stop to this? Thats what the ideas supporters told themselves. Make voters publicly declare their affiliation with the GOP, and all the non-Republican riffraff will stay away from the Republicans party.
Except, obviously, it doesnt work this way.
But the closed primary has opened up a fresh new mess, since Kiebert, Watson and Smith sit on state boards that are supposed to have a mix of political persuasions. Kiebert is supposed to be a Democratic representative on the Environmental Quality Board, which already has the four Republicans the law allows. Watson and Smith, appointed as independents, sit on the Economic Advisory Council with four Republicans and no Democrats.
Its possible that these boards, as well as Idahos Commission on Aging, no longer have the party balance required under state law.
But even that isnt clear. As Gov. Butch Otter, the states appointer-in-chief, told the Statesmans Dan Popkey, My position is they were what they were when I appointed them. But are (the boards) properly constituted? I dont know the answer to that.
It is unfair and misguided to read much into one years primary voting. Quite possibly, appointees such as Kiebert, Watson and Smith are just RIVOs Republicans in Voting Only,
They did what Idaho voters have done for years, and without fear of making news for it. They voted in the primary races they considered most important in their communities. There is nothing sinister about that. Considering the states historically dismal primary election turnout, and this years record low turnout, voting is not a behavior to be discouraged.
The difference, with the closed primary, is that the secret ballot is a lot less secret. Ask for a ballot Republican, Democratic or nonpartisan and your request is public record. That is one troubling component of this ill-conceived primary; the mess surrounding three state boards is a resulting, unintended consequence.
Apologists for the closed primary will say these appointees got their comeuppance especially Kiebert, a textbook example of a primary crossover voter.
But the outing of Kiebert comes at a cost to countless other Idahoans.
To Idahoans who would just as soon not have their voting tendencies made public to their customers, their business contacts, their prospective employers.
To Idahoans who cannot publicly align with a party, for professional reasons judges, nonpartisan city officials, state agency employeers, working journalists, among others.
Oh, and to Idahoans who still think the sanctity of the polling place means something.
Now I have a tattoo on my forehead, Watson says of her primary vote. Shes not alone. Designed to purify elections, the closed primary allows for all manner of snooping and mischief. This may not have been the intent, but it is among the effects. Now that this fact is well-established, the Republicans response will say a lot about the party.
Our View is the editorial position of the Idaho Statesman. It is an unsigned opinion expressing the consensus of the Statesmans editorial board.