Here’s What Happens Now After Judge Says Idaho Republican Party Has No Leader

Jul 30, 2014

A judge ruled Tuesday that Barry Peterson is not the chairman of Idaho’s Republican Party and that there is no chair. Last month’s contentious state GOP convention ended without finishing any of its business including electing a new chair. Peterson maintained that meant he was still in charge. Now that the court has ruled otherwise Adam Cotterell looks at what comes next.

Barry Peterson, left, talks with Gov. Otter the day after the GOP's May primary.
Credit Emilie Ritter-Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

There’s no question Idaho’s dominant party is deeply split. Betsy Russell with the Spokesman Review newspaper and Eye on Boise blog says in the courtroom yesterday even Barry Peterson’s lawyer said the state GOP is in trouble and the judge agreed. Russell: “The judge did say that this is a party clearly in need of direction. So they’ve got some healing to do.”

Russell says party members on both sides of the divide seemed hopeful yesterday that the healing could now begin. The first step toward that is a meeting scheduled for Saturday. Peterson had hoped to stop that meeting, that’s why he sued. But Russell says district judge Randy Stoker ruled it can go ahead.

Russell: “Because it was made by petition of members of the central committee, that that stands under the party rules. So the August second meeting is on and there are no officers at this point. At that meeting the central committee will need to select those.”

So the group responsible for fixing the Idaho Republican Party is the state central committee. The central committee has more than 200 members all elected to local party offices in the state’s counties and party regions and districts. But so far Saturday’s meeting has no agenda or leader. The judge said decisions on those weren’t made according to party rules and tossed them out. There’s some added time pressure on Saturday’s meeting. The party has to patch things up enough to decide who will go to the national Republican convention next week.

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