Sunday, April 14, 2024

Extremist branch of the Idaho GOP tightens its grip on power

| July 20, 2023 1:00 AM

Despite the fact that Idaho is a Republican stronghold and will likely remain such for the foreseeable future, the group that calls the shots for the Party, that wields power over who gets elected, is a small bunch of extremists. GOP chair Dorothy Moon and a group of like-minded culture warriors are working diligently to tighten their control over the entire Republican Party apparatus. Their avowed goal is to eliminate the independent-minded, pragmatic Republicans who believe the role of government is to deal with real problems like property tax relief, improving public education and improving civil discourse.

Moon and her extremist clique were able to defeat a number of responsible Republicans in the closed GOP primary in 2022, including former Senators Jim Woodward, Carl Crabtree, Greg Chaney, Jeff Agenbroad and Jim Patrick, and former Representatives Scott Syme, Jim Addis and Paul Amidor. They will be training their fire on other Republican stand-outs like Rep. Julie Yamamoto and Sen. Dave Lent in 2024.

Knowing that whoever wins the Republican primary is almost assured of winning office in the general election, Moon and her clique are doing their level best to deny the Republican label to all but the candidates most committed to their narrow, far-right view of governing. That will further limit the ability of all other voters — traditional Republicans, independents and Democrats — to have any say in choosing state leaders.

On July 13, Bryan Smith, a member of Moon’s clique, regaled Bonneville County Republicans with what he called “tectonic” rule changes adopted at the GOP State Central Committee meeting in June. Party functionaries, most of whom are ardent extremists, would be able to call out, discipline and censure Republican elected officials who are believed to have departed from the borderline-crazy GOP Platform (including repealing the income tax, depriving people of the right to vote for U.S. Senators, abolishing the Federal Reserve Bank and making all abortions subject to murder charges from the moment of fertilization).

The Party also adopted a proposal to make it harder for voters to change their party affiliation so as to vote in the taxpayer-financed Republican primary. In keeping with the Party’s purge of suspect categories from positions of power, the Party zealots decided to deprive women and young folks of a vote on the Central Committee. Then the Committee adopted a vote of no confidence in Governor Little and 14 GOP legislators for their failure to support legislation allowing junk lawsuits against Idaho libraries.

The extremist branch of Idaho’s Republican Party has been engaged in a purge of all those who are considered suspect by the Moon Crowd and their dogmatic predecessors ever since the GOP closed its primary in 2012. As white nationalist Vincent James Foxx declared last year, a “real right-wing takeover is happening in Idaho and there’s nothing they can do to stop it.” Or, is there actually something Idahoans can do to stop the extremist takeover?

Actually, there is a sure-fire way for Idahoans to take their state back from the extremists who have degraded and embarrassed the Gem State on the national stage, turned us against one another and devoted their attention to gaining votes by creating outrage and fear over non-existent problems while ignoring the actual problems confronting our people.

The solution to almost all of these problems is the Open Primaries Initiative, which will be circulating around the state for signature as soon as the Idaho Supreme Court decides upon proper titles for the measure. Stay tuned to the information about how elections will be conducted under the initiative and how it will empower the people of Idaho to better govern themselves.

Jim Jones is a Vietnam combat veteran who served eight years as Idaho Attorney General (1983-1991) and 12 years as a Justice on the Idaho Supreme Court (2005-2017). He is a regular contributor to The Hill online news. He blogs at