Control of the Ada County Republican Central Committee is an important step in Gov. Butch Otter's attempt to elect a sympathetic state party chairman to replace Barry Peterson.
But a member of the anti-Otter corner says he'll appeal to the Credentials Committee at the state GOP convention next week to deny seats to 102 Ada County delegates elected at last week's county meeting. That group represents almost one-sixth of the 644 state delegates.
Former state Sen. Rod Beck said Ada Republicans broke the rules when they changed the agenda at Thursday's organizational meeting to elect officers before picking state convention delegates.
Beck said that required a two-thirds vote, which the Otter forces couldn't muster. "They had a clear majority, but they would not have had the two-thirds," Beck said.
"Of course he has the right to make the appeal, but we have it on good authority that we acted according to the rules," said the new Ada County GOP chairman, Fred Tilman.
Tilman is a former Idaho House Education Committee chairman who served 13 years in the House and nine years with the Ada County Commissioners. He unseated former Ada GOP Chairman Greg Ferch, an outspoken ally of Sen. Russ Fulcher, who lost the May 20 primary to Otter.
In nine legislative district meetings completed Saturday, Otter also fared well.
"The traditional Republicans are coming back," said Debbie Field, a former Otter campaign manager and retired Boise legislator who was elected as one of nine county officers. "We want to take this party back."
Steve Cory, who helped organize the Otter forces and was elected GOP chairman in legislative District 21, said longtime Republicans pushed back against the tea-party and ex-Libertarian Party members. "They wanted to ensure that the party is made up of conservative Republicans that are committed to traditional Republican principles," Cory said.
Otter and his supporters have grown testy with Peterson, saying he favors the more conservative wing of the party, led by second-term U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, who backed Fulcher.
Beck said the delegate list doesn't reflect the opposition to Otter in Ada, where Fulcher won 51 percent of the primary vote to Otter's 46 percent. Statewide, Otter won 51 percent to 44 percent.
"Butch Otter lost Ada County, but the delegates to the state convention are all Otter supporters," he said.
Outgoing Ada GOP Secretary Dawn Hatch refused to release a list of the delegates, saying, "It would pretty well let the burglars know which homes would be vacant for a few days."
Hatch read out loud the names of the delegate slate at Thursday's meeting. Beck said they include luminaries such as U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig and their spouses.
"I can tell you this: The credentials of the delegates should not be judged based on who they are, but rather the selection process that was illegally used," he said.
The Credentials Committee is to meet at 8:30 a.m. June 13, the second day of the convention and before any floor votes on the chairmanship, platform, resolutions or rules changes. The convention is June 12-14 in Moscow.