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Proposal would ban GOP candidates from primaries without party endorsement

By By Caleb James, Reporter
Published On: Jun 10 2013 10:50:10 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2013 11:23:54 AM CDT

Caleb James reports.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

A proposed change to the rules of Idaho's Republican Party would require any candidate for any office to be endorsed by the party before running in the primary election.

It's proposal is causing quite a stir.

Reporter Caleb James obtained a strongly-worded letter from prominent party members protesting the proposed rule change.

The letter is signed by nine prominent party members -- including state senators and representatives.

Even House Speaker Scott Bedke and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden have signed to show opposition to the proposed rule change.

Our station wanted to find out more about the proposal opponents have said will put the selection of lawmakers into the hands of a few dozen Idahoans.

"Any Republican can ask for an endorsement, and any good Republican will get an endorsement," said Bonneville County Republican Central Committee Chair Doyle Beck.

Beck said he supports a proposal that would require Republican Party candidates to have a party endorsement before running in the primary election.

"Any independent, any Republican and any Democrat can pay $35, sign a paper that says they're a Republican," said Beck.

Beck said proposed rule would solve that, and weed out candidates with Democratic Party ideals running as Republicans.
 
"If there's people who are part of the Republican Party who really believe in the Democrat philosophy, they need to be a Democrat and oppose it, not come in as a wolf in sheep's clothing," said Beck.
 
In a strongly worded letter to committee members, opponents of the proposed rule said closed Republican primaries already solve the problem, and that an endorsement requirement would put Republican nominations in the hands of about 45 Idahoans -- members of the Republican Central Committee.

Beck doesn't see it that way.

"It's finding someone that represents us," he said.

Opponents who've signed the letter said, "Idaho's Republican Party should be open to all Republicans, not just those with keys to the 'smoke-filled room.'"

Our station called each of the lawmakers who've signed the letter. None represent areas in eastern Idaho. Most were unavailable for comment, or referred to the letter.

"I just can't imagine disenfranchising that many people," said state Rep. Maxine Bell, R-Jerome."I can't imagine a republic where that size of a group chooses who represents the people."

Though he didn't sign the letter, we also reached out to Senate President Pro Temp Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. He said he also disagrees with the proposed rule change, and stands with Bedke, who did sign the letter.

"We think it's inappropriate to take that opportunity away from the public as choosing who they want to have in the primary as well as to limit the candidates to the discretion of very few in the party generally on the far right," said Hill.

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