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  • Writer's pictureAction Idaho

Did Establishment Idaho Young Republican's Crew Cheat its Way to Re-Election?

The old guard ignores its rules to maintain its rule.

Dorothy Moon won a decisive victory to become Idaho Republican State Chair in July 2022.

Moon’s majority on the GOP’s 18-member executive council is tenuous. One or two votes one way or another compromises her ability to execute plans. The defeated faction—let’s call them the establishment—makes Moon’s life difficult and interparty fights could distract her from her job.

Some of this is old hat. Party factions agree on party rules and then they jockey for advantage within them. Fellow partisans are not enemies but friends—and factions fight and then live with the consequences. On the other hand, good feelings are hard to maintain when one faction breaks the rules to win.

Enter the Idaho Young Republican controversy. IYR has been the center of controversy for years. It is a private club, not elected by the grassroots, with a seat on the GOP executive council. Some members of the party have been trying to expel the IYR from the executive council since 2015. For good reasons. They aren’t elected by the people. They are not active in promoting the interests of the party or in elections. They didn’t even encourage people to vote on election day 2022! Look at all of the events the GOP IYR have planned for February! They have the same schedule for March and April too.

snapped from their website.

IYR would like to remain on the committee because of its alleged enthusiasm for the cause, but in reality it is a reliable vote for establishment Republicans against Dorothy Moon's leadership.

At the January meeting, the GOP leadership tabled on a motion to strip the IYR of a place on the executive council, delaying the issue until the GOP's June meeting.

Later in January, IYR had its annual meeting to set leadership. The Establishment faction heads the group now. Many conservatives signed up to join IYR, with the aim of having a majority to control the group. In fact, the insurgent conservatives went to the meeting thinking they had about 120 votes to elect new leadership.

The Establishment faction ran the meeting. Action Idaho has received more than a dozen accounts of what happened within the meeting. Many young Republicans paid their dues to sign up, registered as delegates, got their credential confirmation emails and showed up at the convention. When they arrived, however, their names were suddenly made to disappear or their credentials were revoked. Those who zoomed into the meeting were admitted slowly, were not allowed to nominate candidates, were muted, and were ignored when they made points of order. Or sometimes they were denied admission altogether.

A young lady, daughter of a prominent conservative activist in Canyon County, was married after she registered as a member and she changed her last name. The Establishment IYR disqualified her for the discrepancy on her registration. Some put shortened versions of their names on the application and were disqualified. At other times, people had been accepted into membership, but their names had somehow disappeared when it came time to get credentials.

Some forty young Republicans were de-credentialed. The 120 that they thought they had was now down to 80.

As one disenfranchised IYR observed, "The policies of the Idaho Young Republicans were outright ignored whenever it would benefit those who got 'elected' to do so, and the policies were enforced whenever it would harm those who did not get 'elected.'

Irregularities emerged when the voting took place. Many on-line voters could not vote due to technology issues—costing the conservative faction another 20 votes.

No outside observer watched the counting of ballots. It took forty minutes to count fewer than 200 e-votes. Only the establishment board members were in on the counting and credentialing. The establishment slate of candidates won by approximately 80-60, having stripped voting privileges away from some sixty dues-paying conservative candidates.

Other kinds of legitimate complaints were made too, about violations of IYR bylaws on nominations and about the replacement of people on the slate of candidates.

Days later, the Idaho GOP began receiving complaints from those wrongly disenfranchised. The GOP has nothing to do with this private club, except that the club itself has a place on the GOP executive council. Their one vote counts equally to Dorothy Moon or a regional chair or the state treasurer. But there is no appeal above the IYR.

This fiasco may well doom the IYR at the June meeting. The argument for keeping IYR was always based on the idea that the youth need a place at the table in order to maintain their engagement in politics. Nice theory. The youth do have a place within each county party. But the youth end up being more trained in the ways of Chicago’s south side than in the norms of real, accountable democratic government.

The Establishment faction showed that it will break its own rules and norms in order to win. Then they will parade around claiming the mantle of republican virtue and responsibility. Once such behaviors are normalized, there is no longer a party. Are we at that point yet in the Idaho GOP?


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