Skip to Content

Republican Infighting reaches a fever pitch – Idaho GOP Primary a battle over ideology

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - Tomorrow, Republican voters head to the polls in what's been dubbed "the battle for the soul of Idaho's GOP."

Primary elections decide what candidates represent the Republican party in the November elections. This year, it's different. It's not just choosing what candidate is most qualified, it's a battle over ideology.

Infighting among the Republican party has reached a fever pitch, as Republican candidates attack each other over who is more conservative or too extreme.

And at the center, lies the virtually unknown community position of precinct committee Officer.

"The way we take our party back is we use the precinct committee in races that will be on every ballot," said Former chair of Idaho Republican Party Tom Luna. "They are on every ballot, across Idaho. This is how you make your vote heard."

After being displaced by Dorothy Moon as Idaho GOP chair in 2022, Luna has been trying to shift the trajectory of the Republican party.

He has claimed Moon and the county committees, or precinct committee Officers, that voted her into power, are too "extreme" for Idaho.

With another State GOP Chair election this summer, the stakes are high.

"It's the precinct committee vote that will that will decide the future of the party because it's PC committee, then that ultimately will play a role in who the next party leadership will be, what our platform will contain and what our party rules will be," said Luna.

So what is a precinct committeeman or committee officer?

Think of any political party as a pyramid; at the top, there are national positions like the president and the national chairperson. Beneath them are all the statewide positions, like state senators and congressmen. Finally, we reach the local level with precinct committee Officers.

Bingham County officer Ben Fuhriman took office in 2022.

"I did not really know what a precinct committee was," Ben told Local News 8. "Our chairman called and said, 'Hey, we need someone to fill the seat. Would you be interested?' And I said, what do I have to do?"

Fuhriman says the position is so obscure, that the majority of people vote for the name they recognize.

Essentially, the officers represent your neighborhood's opinions to the community and in turn the state GOP.

So why has the position gained more attention this year than in the past?

Furhiman says the state GOP has essentially broken into several competing lobbyist groups.

For example, the North Idaho Republicans and Gem State Conservatives, Furhiman describes as more traditional "Reagan Republicans." And the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which critics have called "libertarians" and "far-right extremists".

"They come in masquerading and deceiving people as to what their true agenda is," said Furhiman. "They gain power, as Republicans, then they win over the precinct seats, elect people like Dorothy Moon, push bills and legislation into the Idaho House that changes things."

Bills like the controversial Idaho Abortion Ban, and party rules like Article XX of the Idaho Republican Party; allowing the party to censure members who vote for legislation contrary to the party platform.

But according to Bonneville County state committeeman, Bryan Smith, the "Reagan Republican" narrative couldn't be further from the truth.

"Democrats infiltrate the Republican Party and run as impostors, as Republicans, so they can get elected during campaign season," said Smith.

"They'll say that they are Republicans. They're very conservative Republicans. And then they get in office and they vote just like Democrats."

Smith says rules like Article XX are necessary to protect the Idaho GOP.

"If following the platform and following the Constitution is libertarian, then I guess people who do that are guilty as charged," said Smith. "But this is just a phony narrative."

On the other side, Republican officials who don't agree with the platform feel their opinions are silenced.

"They(the current Idaho GOP leadership) just want their agenda pushed through," said Furhiman. "So if you don't agree with them, you are a Republican in name only. "

In Bonneville County alone, nearly 100 people are campaigning for less than 60 open positions.

48 of those candidates are backed by the group "Gem State Conservatives," and 36 by the competing Republican group, "Integrity in Government PAC."

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Politics

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content