Capitol & State

Frustrated delegate suggests vote-by-mail to elect Idaho GOP chairman

Having wasted about $500 attending last weekend's Idaho Republican Convention, Valley County delegate Robert Lyons is urging colleagues to consider a vote-by-mail election to fill the party's offices, including chairman.

Lyons wrote fellow delegates expressing his regret that the divided convention simply adjourned Saturday without doing any of its business.

"All of us went to Moscow to get some work done and have our votes count," wrote Lyons in an email with the subject line, "GOP Convention???????"

"The leadership should be absolutely ashamed and adjust the rules for this never to happen again," Lyons wrote. "Nothing was accomplished but to be the laughing stock of Idaho."

In an interview Monday, Lyons said, "It seemed like a couple of kids fighting back and forth. It was shocking to watch it unfold."

Lyons, 45, is a real estate agent in McCall and has been active in city politics, including a failed effort to return McCall to a strong-mayor form of government. He also has run for city council. His late father, Jim, was a former mayor and was assistant manager of the Shore Lodge for about 25 years.

"When they said, 'adjourned,' I was like, really? And I just got out of there," Lyons said. But reflecting on the meeting Sunday, he decided to write his fellow delegates.

He said he was especially disappointed with GOP Chairman Barry Peterson, who declined to explain his decision to deny seats on four party committees to numerous county delegations.

"He just refused to respond," Lyons said. "To me that's almost worst than admitting total guilt."

Lyons said dealing with the platform and rules would be difficult by mail, but that delegates should have a chance to elect leadership. "Let's have an election and at least get that part done," he told the Statesman.

But Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said vote-by-mail is a "remote, remote possibility." More likely, Ysursa said, would be a special meeting of the Republican State Central Committee, which doesn't have a scheduled meeting until January.

"It's way too early to speculate where this might lead, but, hopefully, we'll get to a reasonable conclusion where you don't have people stay in office because of inaction," said Ysursa, a Republican who is retiring from office and didn't attend the convention.

House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, was at the convention representing the wing of the party loyal to Gov. Butch Otter that sought to replace Peterson with Doug Sayer of Pocatello.

Bedke said he doesn't think Peterson can simply remain in office for two more years and agreed that the State Central Committee is the likely venue to resolve the matter.

"I believe (Peterson) was elected (in 2012) to a two-year term to end at the conclusion of the convention," Bedke said.

Peterson did not immediately reply to a request for comment Monday.

Ysursa said he hopes the disharmony is resolved soon — otherwise minority party Democrats may benefit in November.

"There has to be a rational, reasonable compromise before the party goes forward," Ysursa said. "The party ought to be focused on the general election. Remember, the main goal is to keep Republicans in office. This doesn't help."

Lyons' email follows:

Hello Everyone

I am not sure about the rest of you but how the Convention ended yesterday was an embarrassment. This was my first year as a delegate and I sure hope that is not how it has been done in past. (as we heard many times yesterday as an excuse for other items.)

I have been on many committees and organizations and just because the time frame on an agenda goes by it does not mean you just end the meeting before all the work is done.

All of us went to Moscow to get some work done and have our votes count. The leadership should be absolutely ashamed and adjust the rules for this never to happen again.

If there is work to be done then we should stay there until it is finished!! Nothing was accomplished but to be the laughing stock of Idaho.

I am not sure how the rules work but we should be allowed to vote for at least the candidates and platforms that we were supposed to. They should send out ballots in the mail or something, our votes deserve to be counted and our voices heard.


Robert Lyons


Valley Co. Delegate