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GOP platform: IFF does the thinking for you

Chuck Malloy

It’s easy to see why some Republicans don’t fit the mold of Dorothy Moon’s stale old party.

Generally, they vote for education budgets and think that programs – such as Launch – are creative approaches to keep young people in the Gem State. They oppose having taxpayer dollars to private schools and resist the notion that public libraries are glorified porn shops.

These legislators are independent thinkers, not guided by a “integrity in affiliation” doctrine, and they don’t consult with the Idaho Freedom Foundation before casting their votes.

So, the likes of Reps. Stephanie Mickelsen of Idaho Falls (first term) and Lori McCann of Lewiston (second term) are not going to get backing from their Republican central committees. Mickelsen was told she was not welcome to run as a Republican and McCann was publicly censured by party leaders in her area.

Mickelsen and McCann are not alone. A number of legislators throughout the state have been rejected in some form by central committees. Some wayward legislators have been invited to seek “guidance” from party leaders in the effort for them to mend their ways.

Kool-Aid, anyone?

Don’t expect Mickelsen and McCann to show up for those “guidance” sessions. But they view themselves as proud Republicans, and they are not going to let anyone deter them from running as such.

The stakes in this election go beyond a few legislative seats. Moon’s future as chair will be on the line, with spirited challenges in party precinct races. McCann and Mickelsen are seeing in their areas folks who are fed up with what Moon and her followers have brought to the party. Precinct races helped put Moon in power, and they also could boot her out if the turnover rate is heavy enough.

As for her House position, McCann says she’s proud to run on her record. “Let’s fix the problems in the state that should be fixed, like education, public safety and agriculture. Why do we bring up a bill on cannibalism?”

In the end, she said, “It is the people who elect me – not the central committee and not the party. If I’m not doing a good job for the people, the ballot box will take care of that. The party should not be doing that – picking winners and losers in the primary.”

Mickelsen thinks that efforts by the Bonneville central committee will backfire, and that jilted legislators will prevail.

“People are beginning to realize that the central committee does not reflect the values of our community,” she said. “They (the central committees) basically are trying to take away the right of the voters – saying their voices count more than the voters. The voters have a way of taking care of those who are not Republican enough, or conservative enough, at the ballot box.”

Mickelsen says her record reflects that she is both Republican and conservative enough for her district – at least on the issues that matter, such as property tax relief and lowering the income-tax rate.

The two lawmakers are not going to end efforts from the right.

“Right now, candidates for legislative offices are likely inundating you with campaign literature,” said Ron Nate of Rexburg, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. “They are probably telling you how conservative they are, and how they spend your hard-earned tax dollars wisely. For some lawmakers, those statements are true. For others, those things couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The proof, he said, can be found in the IFF’s “Freedom Index,” which grades legislators on a variety of issues. This year, the IFF has added a “Rubber Stamp Club,” those legislators who support almost all spending bills.

“The government’s growth has outpaced inflation and population gains,” Nate says. “That means lawmakers are spending more than ever, while telling you they aren’t.”

Moon says the party’s “integrity in affiliation” is not an attempt to “purify” the party, but to inform voters about the platform and what candidates are supporting it.

“The platform represents the political positions of the Republican grassroots,” she said. “Every two years, delegates gather in a beautiful Idaho city to debate new planks for the platform. Changes or additions are first debated in the Platform Committee and then ratified by the convention as a whole.”

We’ll see how the platform committee looks after the primary elections, or if Moon holds onto her job as the state party chair.

Chuck Malloy

Chuck Malloy

Chuck Malloy, a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at [email protected].

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