State Politics

Idaho GOP concludes businesslike state convention with show of unity

Idaho Republicans reelect Yates as state chair

Idaho GOP chairman Steve Yates was re-elected on the first ballot at the Idaho Republican Party's state convention on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Three candidates were vying for the position. The relatively smooth voting was a marked contrast to two y
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Idaho GOP chairman Steve Yates was re-elected on the first ballot at the Idaho Republican Party's state convention on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Three candidates were vying for the position. The relatively smooth voting was a marked contrast to two y

This year, Idaho Republicans clearly got the memo.

The state party concluded an all-business, three-day convention in Nampa Saturday by re-electing its full slate of officers led by state chairman Steve Yates, who easily won a second two-year term.

Earlier, in preceding sessions, the nearly 500 convention delegates declined to take up platform amendments and other changes sought by minority elements of the party. Challenges to the credentials of some delegates also were turned away.

Conventioneers entertained just enough debate over the three days to keep it an honest show, but not so much to hurt feelings. In doing so, the party buried the memory of the disastrous free-for-all it suffered in Moscow two years ago, where turmoil and dissension brought the convention to a grinding halt before the election of officers.

Yates, an Idaho Falls businessman who was a national security assistant to former Vice President Dick Cheney, referred to that episode in his short nomination speech, noting that the party “took a risk on me” when he became chairman.

“None of you knew who I was or where I came from, but what you did know is that you had arrived at a place where there was so much distrust and so much dissension that business literally could not be conducted at the convention,” he said. Yates won more than 50 percent of the vote against two opponents, outgoing Rep. Kathy Sims of Coeur d’Alene, who lost her bid for re-election in the May 17 primary, and Blackfoot sheepherder Mike Duff.

Missing also from the convention, at least from the public narrative, was any display of lingering friction from the all-out intra-party quarrelling this spring that included secret videotaping of the chairman by a party central committeeman and court battles over accusations of excessive secrecy and campaign finance violations.

In that way, too, did state Republicans, who picked Ted Cruz over Donald Trump in the March Presidential primary, seem to embrace the national party message of unity against a common foe – the Democrats.

“Everyone is focused on November and making sure we beat Hillary Clinton,” said Nampa Rep. Brent Crane, the House assistant majority leader.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

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