State Politics

As GOP chairman resigns, both Idaho political parties search for new leadership for 2020

Both the Idaho Republican Party and Idaho Democratic Party chairmen are exiting.

Idaho GOP Chairman Jonathan Parker resigned on Monday.

Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Bert Marley announced in December he is leaving on March 16.

“Last year, [my wife] Kelly and I were blessed that Presley came into our lives as our beloved daughter,” Parker wrote in his Feb. 18 resignation letter to the party.

“Serving as your chairman, while maintaining a full-time job and being a fully engaged father has been harder than I imagined, so much so that I have reluctantly decided that I should no longer continue to serve as chairman of the Idaho Republican Party so that I can focus on the priorities I place above all others,” Parker stated.

Parker was elected as chairman in July 2017 and reelected in June 2018. He started his own government affairs consulting business, Parker Public Affairs, in 2017.

Under party rules, Vice-Chairwoman Jennifer Locke, of Hayden, will assume the role of acting chairwoman until a replacement is elected at the party’s summer meeting to fill out the remainder of Parker’s two-year term.

“We thank Jonathan Parker for his leadership and service,” Locke said Tuesday in a news release. “My primary concerns are a smooth transition and assuring that we have a successful summer meeting. I look forward to working with Governor Little and all of our elected officials and party leaders to continue to grow the Idaho Republican Party.”

Marley had long-planned to leave his post.

“I made a commitment to serve two terms,” he said in a Dec. 19 news release. “I will honor that commitment and continue to work diligently for the next three months with the hope of turning over to a new Chair a fully functioning, vibrant organization. I look forward to new leadership and new approaches to wrestle with the political realities that face us as a party. Together, we will continue to grow and change the political landscape in Idaho.”

Marley, a retired teacher, has served as chairman of the party since August 2015.

Also leaving with Marley is the party’s executive director, Elle Casner, who has served as its director since November 2017.

“I have decided it is the right time for me to move on personally and professionally,” Casner said in the Dec. 19 joint news release with Marley. “I look forward to continuing to be a donor, volunteer and supporter of the Idaho Democratic Party and ensuring a successful transition as we prepare for the 2020 election cycle.”

Idaho Democratic Party leaders will meet March 16 to elect a new chairperson.

Idaho Statesman investigative reporter Cynthia Sewell was named Idaho Press Club reporter of the year in 2017 and 2008. A University of Oregon graduate, she joined the Statesman in 2005. Her family has lived in Idaho since the mid-1800s.