Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, will be the new chairwoman of the Idaho Republican Party, one of few women to ever lead the party in its history.
Delegates selected Moon by a vote of 434-287, and cheered loudly for her when she came on stage.
Moon narrowly lost her bid to be Idaho’s next secretary of state in the May primary and served three terms as a member of the Idaho House of Representatives. She unseats Chairman Tom Luna, who was elected in 2020, and is only the third woman to serve in the position since the late 1800s.
Moon thanked Luna for his service as chairman and said she appreciated the support of the delegation.
“We have to make sure with the Democrats coming at us with full force that we have our barriers up, our guns loaded and ready to keep this state free,” Moon said after the results were announced.
Moon is a legislator who earned high marks from conservative and libertarian groups for her hard-right voting record, and during the campaign for secretary of state, Moon said she did not believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected by Americans in 2020. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
“The primaries are over, and my heart is strong,” Moon told the delegation. “And I’m committed to seeing Republicans up and down the ticket get elected in November.”
Darr Moon, her husband, is active in the Idaho Republican Party and serves on the national council for the John Birch Society, a far right-wing political advocacy group.
Luna told delegates it was an honor to serve as the state party chairman, and said he respected the will of the people.
“I only wish and hope for the best for the Republican Party going forward,” Luna said, becoming emotional toward the end of his remarks. “A party that I love so much.”
Campaign efforts between the two camps were fierce over the three-day party convention in Twin Falls. Attendees wore T-shirts supporting Moon and sported signs that referenced a lawsuit Luna filed on behalf of the Idaho Republican Party just before the primary because the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee endorsed candidates in state-level races. A judge determined Luna was correct in his assertion that the endorsements were a violation of the central committee’s bylaws.
Moon referenced the lawsuit in her speech before delegates on Saturday morning, saying she would not make a “unilateral decision without consulting executive committee members.” Luna acknowledged the lawsuit as well, saying he learned lessons from the situation and said he thought both sides could have done things differently.
Campaign efforts also included unknown individuals distributing alternate flyers to local shelters for people facing homelessness advertising free pizza at a campaign event Luna held Thursday night, in what Luna’s campaign staffers described as an effort to disrupt the event.
Moon called it a dirty trick and said she condemned the action.
“If I am your chairman, there will be no more dirty tricks,” Moon said. “We will never treat hard-working Idahoans with anything less than full respect.”
Delegates also chose Maria Nate, wife of Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, as the party’s next secretary over Caleb Hoobery. The new treasurer will be Steve Bender, who replaces Stephen Parrott, and second vice chairman will be Mark Fuller, who beat Mike Matthews. The first vice chairman will be Daniel Silver over Machele Hamilton, who was running for a second term. All of the executive committee appointments are changes from the current committee makeup.
Republican opposition group responds to Moon’s election
Members of Take Back Idaho, a group of Republicans from across Idaho who are opposed to extremism within the party, issued a statement saying the election represents a dangerous lurch to the fringes of the party.
“Dorothy Moon’s election to Idaho GOP leadership is absolutely disturbing. Moon’s dangerous gallery of associations— including militant Ammon Bundy, militia leader Eric Parker, convicted rapist Aaron von Ehlinger, and white nationalists like Wendy Rogers — should be disqualifying for state party leadership,” the statement said. “But, fresh from their rightful rejection by Idaho voters just eight weeks ago, Moon and her powerful cronies are doing what they do best: changing the rules, courting extremists, and demanding allegiance to their dark vision for Idaho. With Dorothy Moon’s election to leadership, the Idaho Republican Party has firmly lost all touch with the average Idahoan.”
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