Capitol & State

Curiouser and curiouser: Idaho GOP loses lone staffer, phones unanswered

The lone remaining paid staffer at the Idaho Republican Party is gone, apparently leaving the party office unmanned Thursday as the party continues to battle over whether Barry Peterson is party chairman.

Mary Tipps Smith, a former attache at the Idaho Legislature, began her job as Idaho GOP finance chief about a month ago.

Smith posted the news that she had quit on Facebook late Wednesday, writing:

"I hope all my wonderful Republican friends will forgive my departure from the staff of the Idaho Republican Party. You all know I love you, support you, and will volunteer for you if you say the word. Please pray for the Party during a difficult time with no staff members, and for the right people to come alongside and be successful in their endeavors. I wish everyone all the very best."

Smith told the Statesman that she didn't anticipate her post would become public. She declined further comment, including on why she resigned.

Former Executive Director Trevor Thorpe left last week, after Peterson changed the locks at party headquarters in the Hoff Building in Downtown Boise. Thorpe "liked" Smith's post, as did Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, a leader among Republicans loyal to Gov. Butch Otter who want Peterson replaced.

Peterson did not immediately reply to a message left on his cell phone Thursday morning. The phone at GOP headquarters went to voice mail, which answered but said, "This mailbox is full and cannot accept new messages."