You snooze, you lose. What “didn’t happen” in the final minutes of the 2023 Idaho legislature may mean hundreds of thousands of Idahoans can’t vote to pick their party’s nominee for President in 2024.
The Legislature did pass a bill (H.B. 138) whose statement of purpose says it, “consolidates the March presidential primary election with the May primary election date.” When that bill hit the Senate, Ada County Commissioner Rod Beck correctly spotted a drafting flaw. The bill deleted the Primary in March but failed to put it back in May.
Technical drafting errors can be corrected with a non-controversial “trailer” bill fixing inadvertent mistakes to achieve original intent. Still, one must watch “trailer bills” carefully. But this error was in good faith, and an honest technical correction sailed through the Senate, straightforwardly putting a Presidential primary back in May – exactly what Senators and House members intended when overwhelmingly passing H.B. 138.
Not factored in was an Idaho Republican Party co-opted by power brokers who despise you. They think you’re stupid and can’t be trusted with important decisions like “who can run as a Republican.” They openly ask most Idahoans to butt out of what they consider “their Party.”
So, they killed the “technical correction” in the House State Affairs committee. Chairman Brent Crane was ready to pass it on the last day of the session but told Senate Leaders he couldn’t buck “the Party.” House Speaker Mike Moyle had assured me that, once out of committee, the correction would pass and be off to the Governor for signature.
Now, as Secretary of State Phil McGrane told Idaho Reports, by killing the technical correction “there will be no legal mechanism for political parties to request a presidential primary or for candidates to file for president in Idaho.”
So why would “the Party” destroy its only option for a state-run Presidential Primary? The answer: power and control.
Idaho GOP leaders now have until October 1st to advise the Republican National Committee how delegates to the National Convention will be allocated. And that “how” cannot rely on county clerks administering a secure statewide primary as was done in 2016 and 2020 when Donald Trump won the nomination.
Which partially explains why the cabal hates popular primaries. Many were not Trump supporters at first. They favored Ted Cruz in 2016, and even tried to give Idaho’s delegates to Cruz after Trump won the national delegate count. Donald Trump remembered this when endorsing Mike Simpson over cabal member Bryan Smith.
The bias against popular Presidential primaries reveals some “election integrity” rants as hypocritical. A secure state-run primary costing about $2.7 million will not now happen. Instead, the Party’s choices at this point include (a) an on-the-cheap privately-run primary, (b) a caucus or (c) a nominating convention — all options more open to corruption.
The damage to Idaho is serious. Candidates will soon budget whether to buy Boise, Spokane, or Salt Lake media, and prudence puts Idaho in the “likely not” column. Why spend campaign cash influencing public opinion when rank and file Republican opinions may not matter?
But the news gets worse. Cabal leaders see an opening. Failure to pass the “technical correction” may result in a small “Polit bureau” picking Presidential nominators. Couldn’t a similar group nominate Governor, State Senator, County Commissioner, or Sheriff? Proposals ending all nomination by party-wide primary are already circulating.
And consider this: your vote for Presidential nominee disappeared without a single state legislator who will attest “yes, I voted to take nominating power away from voters.”
Benjamin Franklin believed the America whose birth he witnessed was a “Republic,” meaning “of the People.” But he added, “If you can keep it.” When we tolerate “stealing the people’s power by hook or crook,” we should keep Franklin’s warning in mind.
Trent Clark, of Soda Springs, is Region VI Vice-Chair and former State Chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, twice inducted in the Idaho Republican Hall of Fame as the state’s Outstanding Republican Worker.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Trent Clark. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: 2023 Idaho Legislature, 2023 Legislative Session, 2024 Presidential Election, 2024 Presidential Primary, House Bill 138, Idaho GOP, Phil McGrane, Presidential Candidates, Presidential Primary, Representative Brent Crane, Rod Beck