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Election outcome – The balance of power in the state GOP

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - This election cycle, in-fighting among Republicans has reached a fever pitch, as candidates attack each other over who is more conservative or too extreme.

Several competing lobbyist groups have divided Idaho's majority party, in what has been called "a battle for the soul of the GOP."

At the center of this battle between competing Republicans lies the virtually unknown community position of precinct committee officer. In Bonneville County alone, nearly 100 people backed by various groups ran for less than 60 precinct committee officer positions.

Tuesday's statewide primary results are in, and the results are split, with no clear winner, except in east Idaho. Local News 8 ran the numbers and found out that in Bonneville County, nearly 61 percent of precinct committee officer positions went to candidates supported by the group Gem State Conservatives.

In eastern Idaho as a whole, the numbers are split nearly 50-50 between candidates backed by sides self-identified as either "Conservative" or "Reagan Republicans."

This afternoon we asked members of both sides of the Republican spectrum what they thought of last night's results.

Tom Luna founded Gem State Conservatives about a year ago, and he has this to say about PCO races Tuesday.

"The driving motivation of myself and others involved in this is to listen to the voters and follow what they're telling us through the votes. And what we heard last night, overwhelmingly across the state, was that people want the Republican Party to go in a new direction."

Hari Heath, a State GOP Committeeman, and a self-described "liberty conservative," says the Gem State Conservatives have a different motive.

"It scares the pants off of them because they no longer own the party. That's what it comes down to," said Heath. "They have lost the party to the grassroots that actually want to be Republicans, and they were never really about that. It was just to show. And that's the billions of dollars that changes hands through control of state government is now at risk. And that's the entire game between Trent, Clarke and Luna. And they're just the front players for a much larger concern," he said.

Gem State Conservatives do not have an exact number for how many precinct committee officers they backed won Tuesday night.

The group was rumored to have spent a large amount to have spent a large amount on precinct committee Officer races. While they couldn't tell us an exact amount, the Secretary of State's website shows the PAC spent about $14,000

According to Luna, the precinct committee officer races matter because the officers influence the direction of the party, including everything from party leadership to the rules and the platform.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho Politics

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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