Our county delegation fully attended and participated in the state GOP convention this past weekend. At the convention, in addition to electing new state party leadership, we confirmed a strong pro-life platform, and affirmed that Republican county committees may endorse candidates as they choose.
As you probably know, the incumbent state chair, Tom Luna, sued the Bonneville county committee over that issue. I spoke personally with Mr. Luna, whom I have always respected, about his suit. I was very troubled when he admitted that the lawsuit’s funding was guaranteed by Frank Vandersloot, the powerful CEO of Maleluca. This was a suit against Vandersloot’s political enemies, after all.
I felt sick when the Bonneville volunteers told me that Mr. Vandersloot flew in a group of Washington, D.C. lawyers on a private jet to argue the case against unrepresented volunteers. For the grand crime of volunteering in grassroots politics, these guys were served with a huge complaint and summons. One of them showed me the inch-thick complaint and agonized about how to even retain a moderately capable lawyer for which he had no funds and no insurance.
Most of all, I was bothered that our party judiciary committee, the normal avenue for these disputes, was not consulted. Mr. Luna told me that he could not do so for time constraints. But this was the most divisive action taken by a state party chair in living memory. And Mr. Luna told me he hadn’t even consulted our executive committee for the same time constraint reasons.
The division and tension this caused in the party was palpable at the convention. Most of the 41 volunteer delegates from Bonneville wore t-shirts decrying how they had been sued without warning or consultation. They passed out flyers and loudly objected to Mr. Luna’s objectives throughout the convention.
What is puzzling to me is how Mr. Luna, who had won the previous election by just 12 votes to my recollection, could reasonably consider running for re-election. He lost in a landslide unseen in many years. To my view, it was heart-breaking that this talented, smart, hard-working man had decided to act as political operative for his powerful benefactor rather than remembering his ultimate duty to the people of the state. I’m not sure that everyone at the convention shared my specific opinion, but one thing was certain, Mr. Luna could not remain in office after doing what he did. As I told Mr. Luna, actions speak louder than words.
Dorothy Moon won the election for chair by 147 votes – 434 to 287.
If there is one reason I force myself to attend these conventions, it is to prevent the political tricks and shenanigans that always seem to surface. On the credentials committee, Tracey Wasden, apparently upset about the election results in her county, attempted to have the entire Canyon County delegation disqualified from voting. There had been a good-faith clerical error, and the leadership had done everything they could to retroactively fix it. Folks were shocked when I asked Ms. Wasden what it was she wanted us to do about it and she responded that the entire delegation should be disqualified. It was an ugly, divisive attempt that we were able to prevent from happening.
For the record, we also had to shut down a similar attempt to disqualify the entire Twin Falls delegation. These folks almost universally vote with the neocon establishment (opposite of my personal views), but it wasn’t right to try to throw their votes out on a small good-faith error either.
Then there was the dark-money mudslinging. As we got closer to the leadership elections, text messages and emails from anonymous sources came at us furiously. Many of them spouted straight up lies about the conservative candidates. This did not work however, because as delegates, we personally know most of the candidates. Dorothy Moon’s honesty and integrity, as well as her solid (not extremist) views are well known to us. So the sneak attacks that can sometimes work in a general election just didn’t work at all.
Finally, there was an attempt by Steve Millington of Twin Falls to avoid a vote on the resolution directing Mr. Luna to dismiss the lawsuit on Bonneville and affirming the rights of county committees to endorse candidates. At around 5 PM, with the delegates tired after a long convention, he tried to get enough delegates to walk out so as to deprive the convention of a quorum to finish its business. Many shamefully did just that. But, to the credit of most of the decent honorable delegates (many who don’t agree with me on every point) who stayed and endured the 20-minute delay, the little trick didn’t work.
And so, despite all the gamesmanship, a lot actually got done at our 2022 IDGOP convention. We clarified our intent as to county endorsements. We passed a solidly conservative, unambiguous platform. And we elected a new slate of dedicated, honest people to our executive committee.
The division within the Republican party continues to plague us. But at least there won’t be a Stalinist purge of one side or another. Small victories I suppose. And outside the convention, a group of pro-abortion protesters screaming their rage at us helpfully served to remind us of our real opposition. We’d do well to remember that. We still have a lot we agree on.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Christopher Boyd, Adams County Delegation Chair. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 2022 Summer Convention, Dorothy Moon, Frank Vandersloot, Idaho Republican Party, IDGOP, Tom Luna