Capitol & State

Conflicting dates set for Idaho GOP meetings to resolve chairmanship dispute

Two meetings of the Idaho Republican State Central Committee have been set to settle the matter of whether Barry Peterson will remain party chairman.

Peterson said in a news release Monday morning that the Aug. 9 meeting would be at a time and location to be determined.

Late Monday afternoon, First Vice Chairman Mike Mathews and National Committeewoman Cindy Siddoway released a letter to members of the Central Committee setting the meeting for 9 a.m. Aug. 2 at the Red Lion Hotel in Boise. That's the same date and location 20 Central Committee members from eight counties asked for in a petition last week.

The letter says the business of the Central Committee will be electing a chairman, two vice chairs, a treasurer and a secretary. The Central Committee has about 200 members.

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, said the earlier date is necessary to settle the matter in time for the Republican National Committee's summer meeting in Chicago, Aug. 6-9. The RNC's lawyer has said Peterson is no longer chairman, one of three slots on the National Committee held by Idaho.

Rice, a lawyer, acknowledged that both meetings may occur.

Congressman Raul Labrador, who chaired the Idaho GOP convention that adjourned without electing officers June 14, issued a statement Monday night in support of Peterson's Aug. 9 meeting.

"I support Barry's decision to call the Republican Central Committee to meet and resolve any differences in an amicable way," Labrador said. "I believe the best way forward for the Republican Party is for the duly elected members of the Central Committee to sit down and address these issues. The sooner we get this resolved, the sooner we can get to the business of electing Republicans." 

Labrador is the leader of the faction opposing Gov. Butch Otter, whose allies have been working for months to replace Peterson. Labrador told the convention that party officers would be held over for two years, a view rejected by Otter loyalists.

Mathews works for U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, whose, son, Jason, is the Idaho GOP's general counsel. Jason Risch said last week that Peterson's term expired when the convention failed to act. Siddoway is the wife of Sen. Jeff Siddoway, R-Terreton.