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GOP party divided after heated primary

The Idaho GOP is gearing up for this week’s Republican convention, but after a heated primary election, there could be some divide within party lines.
The party has been split into Reaganites and those who identify with the tea party. Amongst the disagreement list is the state’s health exchange, voter affiliation and the 17th Amendment. The biggest issue is about having an open or closed primary for future elections.

Chairman for Region 7 of the Idaho Republican Party, Bryan Smith said Republicans have a constitutional right to a closed primary.

“We have a right to associate with other Republicans, we also have the right to disassociate with people who don’t follow the Republican platform or Republican ideals,” he said.

But Bingham County Republican Central Committee chairman, Dan Cravens, said a closed primary wouldn’t be fair to the state’s growing independent voters.

“If we alienate these voters, and these are that middle 50 percent out there that vote in the general election and the ones that truly elect our Republican offices. If they are alienated, as a party we are going to lose out,” said Cravens.

Although this is a touchy issue for the party, Cravens said he wants to make sure the 17th Amendment doesn’t become another disagreement during this years convention. On one side, party members want to repeal the Amendment, putting Senate elective power back in the hands of legislators. But others said the 17th Amendment is the only way to keep democracy in the hands of voters.

“Most voters and most Republicans like to be able to vote for U.S. senators,” said Cravens. “So it doesn’t make much sense to have this (repealing the 17th Amendment) in our Republican Party platform plank.”

GOP members will discuss these issues along with realigning the party’s focus in preparation for November elections. The convention will be held from June 12 to June 14 in Moscow. Anyone interesting in attending the convention must register and prepay for the event.

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