Fellow Idahoans, it’s time for you to get into the game.
If you are a conservative-leaning, fiercely independent Idahoan, you need to pay attention. It’s time to bite the proverbial bullet, affiliate (aka “register”) as a Republican, and participate in the “real” election.
In case you haven’t heard, the Idaho Republicans have TWO primary elections this year. The first is the presidential primary Tuesday. The second is the primary for Congress, the entire state Legislature, county offices and more, occurring on May 17. And, of course, the general election is in November.
Here’s the deal — if you are not participating in the GOP primary election, you really aren’t participating at all. And you need to change that.
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Now — to my friends in the Democratic, Constitution and other political parties, this message is not for you. We appreciate who you are but you have your parties and processes, and we have ours. But for you Idahoans who have not “affiliated” with a political party — i.e. already “registered” as a Republican, Democrat or other — you can and should get involved now.
Idaho is so overwhelmingly Republican that, in most of the state, voters who only vote in general elections in November have essentially missed the game. That’s a shame because most registered voters don’t vote in the primary. In fact, Idaho has more unaffiliated voters than affiliated. In other words, there are more “independent” voters than Republicans and Democrats combined. So the future of our state and communities is being determined by a minority of voters.
We know that the majority of you independents lean conservative and typically vote for the Republican candidate in the general election. That is why most of the Republicans always win. And I understand the rugged philosophical unwillingness to be forced to affiliate with a party. However, don’t you want to really have an impact on the future of Idaho? The real elections are the primaries in March and May. November is typically a foregone conclusion. (Again, no disrespect to my Democratic friends.)
As one lifelong conservative recently stated: “If you refuse to register as a Republican, you are consigning yourself to sit out the game until it is decided. The truly competitive races usually take place during the Republican primary, and if you want your voice to be heard through your vote, you need to look in the mirror and decide whether it is more important to you to remain independent, voiceless, and frustrated, or affiliated and empowered.”
Remember — Idaho has 32 delegates at stake in this race. That’s more than many earlier key states, such as Iowa or New Hampshire. If a candidate wins over 50 percent of the vote, they get them all. If no one gets 50 percent, then they are apportioned to any candidate getting at least 20 percent of the vote. Your vote will truly matter in the race for Idaho’s delegates.
So here is your plan. Voters currently unaffiliated with a party can affiliate at the poll when you go to vote in the primary. In other words, go to the polls on Tuesday, declare your affiliation with the Republican Party, request a Republican ballot for the Presidential primary, and get in the real game.
Then, on May 17, we will do it all over again, electing county, state and congressional candidates in the traditional primary most Idahoans are familiar with. If you affiliated in March, then you are good to go. If you missed the March primary, simply affiliate at that point, get your Republican ballot, and participate in your real local election.
So vote early (in the primaries) and often (BOTH primaries) and let’s ensure that Idaho gets the representation that reflects who we are.
Jim Pierce is a fourth-generation Idahoan and 2nd vice chairman of the Idaho Republican Party