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Here in Idaho, the primary will be held next Tuesday. For about half of us, our only option is to register as a Republican if we want to make our votes count.

The Republicans held their first caucus this year. Until then, the primary was the way the Republican candidates were selected. May 15th comes very late in the primary season, and the Democratic caucuses have been held on Super Tuesday for some time. The Idaho Republican party decided to go to a caucus so their votes would count more in the final outcome for Republican national candidates.

 But over the past few years, the far right of the party has taken over many county Central Committees, and the committees set the agenda of the party. One of them was a measure to close the Republican primary. Now, to be able to vote for a Republican in the primary requires Independents, Non-Affiliated, Democratic and Libertarian, and all other voters to register themselves as Republicans.

Why is this a big deal? In a state that has a more balanced Legislature, it wouldn't be, but for the past 20+ years, Idaho has become effectively a unicameral state.

The Republican super-majority in all areas of government, from the county level to the state level, is so large that in almost all instances, the choices for County Commissioners, Treasurers, Sheriffs, and State Representatives and Senators are only Republicans. I, like thousands of others, will have to register as a Republican before I have a say in who I want to be my County Commissioner, Sheriff, and Representative. My only other choice is to leave those decisions in the hands of others. My non-registered vote would only count in non-partisan races and initiatives which will appear on the ballots of the general election. There are no Democrats running in my county for any of the above positions.

Officially, about 2/3 of Idaho's voters are registered as Independents. At least 1/3 of these are swing voters, who sometimes vote for Democrats, especially in the national elections, and the rest are Libertarians and other fringe party voters. We have lots of fringe voters here, who mostly are to the right of the Republican party. More than anything, folks here tend to vote for those who they know, either by reputation or name recognition. Since this is a small state, most folks are familiar with their candidates.

But over the past few elections, the Repub Central Committees have been taken over by 'Constitutional Conservatives', and they are a far-right bunch. Some of the party's platform includes: annulment, a return to the gold standard, and the supremacy of State over Federal government. Many of the old-line conservatives who have run the Republican party for decades have been pushed out of their central committees.

This extreme bunch gained a lot of seats in the 2010 election. As a result, the recent legislative sessions have been mostly stalemates with a lot of useless social legislation passed and later defeated by the courts.
What has passed has become a big shift to the right in our education budget, our state employees' unions, and inattention to our roads and infrastructure. The most radical law was one that required school districts to provide computers and a compertized education system; the teaching contract was awarded afterwards to a company that is owned by some very powerful conservatives with tight connections to Boise, where big deals are struck. This law is currently tied up in the courts, as are several others, including Idaho's health care.

Those battles became moderate Republican vs. conservative Republican fights.

Idaho has a core of older, experienced Representatives and Senators who were once thought to be solid conservatives until the definition of the word moved far to the right. These moderates blocked much of the most extreme legislation that has gone through the House and Senate for the past two years, and now, many of them are in a fight for their political lives for the first time since they were elected.

Their rivals are mostly younger, are newcomers to politics, and are making no bones of where they stand; their campaign signs and ads proclaim them to be True Republicans, Constitutional Republicans, or Conservative Republicans.

The bitterness between the factions has steadily increased over the past two years, and is at a high level now.

There is an increasing push-back being conducted by new Republican moderates who feel the right wing has drastically over reached and has gone too far. These folks are, by and large, older, more established in their communities, and are largely professionals: doctors, lawyers, large farmers and others who have been civically active for years.

The Idaho Democrats would like to vote for many of these folks, as would the Independents, who tend to vote for moderates of either party. But we will have to register as Republicans to be able to select our future Sheriffs, County Commissioners and others who are the closest to the electorate.

I'll have to register. I want my vote to count. My choices include: one candidate for Sheriff believes he can stop Federal law enforcement from 'interfering' with county investigations. One Representative candidate for my district wants to nullify Idaho's statehood so Idaho can become a separate nation. Still another wants to make invasive medical procedures a law before a woman can seek an abortion here.

Am I going to vote for any of these guys? Hell no! Some of my choices are going to be putrid, but the only way to stop the wing-nuts is to deny them a win as early and as often as it takes. I'm encouraging all my Democratic friends to make the same decision I made. We can't leave this up to the diligence of Republican moderates only.

Traditionally, the Primary election has always had a low turnout. The extreme conservatives have used this to their advantage, as the Central Committee membership is decided in the primary, as are the delegates to the national convention. It has been easy for them to turn out their fervent base to go vote when most voters have been indifferent to the results.

This time, who knows? The party's infighting between it's factions has become very public and a hot topic of discussion. Maybe this will rouse enough moderates to make a difference, maybe not.

But eventually, I believe the closed primary will come back to bite the far right very hard as soon as some critical legislation crosses the line.

Idaho is very favorable to the far right conservatives right now, but this election could prove to be the opposite of what they want to achieve by forcing voters to register, and could become the beginning of the end for the Constitutionalists and the others. Party purity is not all it is thought to be in a state where there's only one strong party.

May 16th will provide a glimpse of things to come, one way or the other. Forcing everyone to come to the Republican table is a feast chock full of unintended consequences.

Originally posted to Idaho07 on Sun May 13, 2012 at 04:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Can you re-register before the general election? (13+ / 0-)

    Because otherwise, if a large number of Idaho Republicans end up voting Democratic in the general election, it will be fun to watch some pundit's heads explode.

    I don't really see a downside here.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun May 13, 2012 at 05:01:38 PM PDT

  •  The Far Right Wants to Restore the Articles of (15+ / 0-)

    Confederation. That's what supremacy of states over federal government means. Tried a more perfect union, didn't like it.

    There are appropriate circumstances to register and vote in the party you oppose and this is definitely one of them.

    Go for it!

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun May 13, 2012 at 05:19:07 PM PDT

    •  Not a new problem (9+ / 0-)

      Idaho and Oregon both have some sad histories from the mid 19th century.  Gold and silver was used to support the confederacy, leaving behind towns like Atlanta, Idaho, and Sumter (now Sumpter) Oregon.  The KKK was powerful in Portland around 1900 and Idaho has sheltered white supremacists  in the north.  just saying it isn't new.

      Oregon a few years ago put in "fusion voting".  Allows multiple parties to run the same candidate.  That might allow Dems to nominate a moderate republican whether he liked it or not.  (Usually they like it.)

      Here's an idea: how about the people run the government and the corporations can line up for whatever we leave for them.

      by J Orygun on Sun May 13, 2012 at 08:56:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Much of this far-right Republicanism can be (4+ / 0-)

      found on the to-do lists of Christian Dominionism: iron-fist, Church-ruled, faith-based politics. And they've slyly infiltrated into both the (D) and (R) Parties over many, many years. I believe they are at critical mass now. They've operated the President's Prayer Breakfasts in DC every February since '53. They mean to undo our Democracy.

      •  yes, indeed (0+ / 0-)

        This is particularly true in N. Idaho. Not so much in the South, where it is largely Mormon, but there have been inroads there as well.
        Dominionism has been a big factor in N. Idaho culture and politics for many years.

        Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

        by Idaho07 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 03:42:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well then, you'll just have to (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, decisivemoment, ColoTim

    work to build up the Idaho Democratic Party.  Or move.  Or accept the status quo.  Pick one.  See?  You already have a vote to make.

    Our Germans are better zan zeyr Germans.

    by Troubadour on Sun May 13, 2012 at 06:11:34 PM PDT

    •  Actually, A Progressive Homesteading Program (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      US Blues, Troubadour, SuWho, annan

      to motivate and move progressives from securely blue areas to places like Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma would be far more effective for the movement than abandoning them. I originally held your position, but then reconsidered and looked at the numbers. The size of migrations that would be necessary to swing these states, in most cases, would not be that large.

      Occupy the Intermountain, Southwest and Plains!

      The only reason that change is so hard is that the moderates on "our" side are Tories who support the aristocracy.

      by Words In Action on Mon May 14, 2012 at 06:35:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  An analysis of this proposal would be a good (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, SuWho, ColoTim

        diary topic but I am stretched a bit thin at the moment.

        The only reason that change is so hard is that the moderates on "our" side are Tories who support the aristocracy.

        by Words In Action on Mon May 14, 2012 at 06:36:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It worked in Colorado. Migrants from the (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        US Blues, Troubadour, ColoTim, annan

        Pacific NW and the growing Latino vote have changed it to a swing state. I never thought I'd see that happen in my lifetime.

        "Mistress of the Topaz" is now available in paperback! Link here:

        by Kimball Cross on Mon May 14, 2012 at 08:09:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wyoming is nice. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I lived there. Of course there are the antelope-related incidents. One fell into our window well once. And in its upset it decided the best way to get itself out of this situation was to smash through the window. And thats when things got a little weird.

        Are treatment radical such of effects term long the what sure be can't we, naturally. Charge no.

        by kamrom on Mon May 14, 2012 at 01:32:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I've been working for years (0+ / 0-)

      in the Democratic party here.  We aren't giving up, but we aren't getting any traction. It is dispiriting, but Idaho Democrats are a mighty tough bunch. Some of our best and most senior Representatives finally threw in the towel this year, which was a serious blow. But I don't blame them. Some have been fighting hard for over a decade with very little success.

      For most of my life, the Idaho Democrats have been a functioning minority, and for quite a long time, idaho liked having a Democratic Governor and a Republican Legislature. Idaho worked well this way for decades, too.

      There was a brief one term when the Democrats owned the Executive branch and the House, but it didn't last past 4 years.

      It's very hard to say precisely what changed to make the current situation so overwhelmingly super-conservative, but here are a few of my thoughts:
      - During Dirk Kempthorne's long leadership, there was a big collection of his boys who turned Idaho into a big insider's club. This frustrated both the Democrats and the Republicans who were outside the club. Much of the early far-right takeovers were directed toward the Kempthorne people.

      - Idaho suffered long after the rest of the nation recovered from the many recessions that have occurred starting in 1976 and coming along about every 4 years or so afterward. Since they typically hit Idaho long after other states, as often as not, Democrats got the blame as they were office when one began or when one was already starting to turn elsewhere.

      - Idaho's agriculture has been nothing but ups and downs for the past 30 years. This tends to create a lot of conservatism in all things, and we are still an agricultural state.

      - The logging and mining industries all petered out. This also brought on a lot of conservatism when the upper part of the state lost thousands of jobs. The north has never fully recovered the loss of the logging industry.

      -Idaho's jobs and salaries have been better than Montana's and there are more opportunities here than in N. Nevada, Wyoming, Montana and much of the Great Basin except for Utah. This has caused a lot of conservatives to move here after initially moving to Montana or another state. These folks bring a double dose of conservative resentment with them.

      Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

      by Idaho07 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 03:36:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not moving (0+ / 0-)

      and I'm not giving up. I've been working in the party since 1972. We shall return.

      Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

      by Idaho07 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 04:27:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I live in a Democratic districty in (8+ / 0-)

    Ada County, and I am so glad I have a choice and that my D vote will matter.

    Will it brong balance to the rest of the state? No. But I can "hold the line" where I'm at and let them know we won't be steamrolled everywhere by their whispered sweet nothings about how the whole world will be a fantasyland of unicorns and rivers of chocolate once the Feddle Gummint is out of the way.

  •  You've described two factions (13+ / 0-)

    Uh...unicameral means that the state has only one legislative body.  Nebraska is the only state with a unicameral legislature.

    You have described how Idaho actually has two factions running for office.  Although both have an R by their name, you've clearly described the difference.  

    Do register as a Republican.  Campaign and vote for the candidate you feel will do the least harm.  Put out some yard signs for the candidates of your (painful) choice.

    •  Maybe the diarist meant "unicamel"? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      US Blues, enhydra lutris

      As in one beast with two humps?

      OK, OK, it was just a thought...

      snarcolepsy, n: a condition in which the sufferer responds to any comment with a smartass comeback.

      by Uncle Cosmo on Mon May 14, 2012 at 07:15:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry. (0+ / 0-)

      I thought the term also applied to total single-party rule as well.

      I won't go as far as putting up yard signs, but I will register. I expect to do some gagging on several of my choices, but I will go under the belief that the older and incumbent candidates are be slightly better than their challengers. Some are facing opposition for the first time ever in many years of service.

      Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

      by Idaho07 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 03:46:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Idaho seems so far gone you might consider (0+ / 0-) for the loons. Maybe what you need to do is provoke a revulsion of feeling against the radicals due to the absolute collapse of their fantasy policies? "The worse things are, the better things are."

      irresponsible, I know. And here we are the party of good government.


      We are the principled ones, remember? We don't get to use the black hats' tricks even when it would benefit us. Political Compass: -6.88, -6.41

      by bmcphail on Mon May 14, 2012 at 05:49:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow, good luck. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Renee, means are the ends, Sue B

    Maybe something will break in your favor.

  •  Thank You ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    means are the ends, radarlady

    I hope your state pulls out of this.


    "Upward, not Northward" - Flatland, by EA Abbott

    by linkage on Sun May 13, 2012 at 09:19:58 PM PDT

  •  Condolences. Same freak-show here in rural NY. (9+ / 0-)

    Literally every local office at the Town and County level is either uncontested or grossly uncompetitive, with a few Democratic sacrificial lambs running on a shoe-string just to be obliterated on election day. For at least 12 years running, every position in my rural township (population circa 300) has been uncontested, with only Republican candidates even listed on the ballot. The sole exception is one persistent young Democrat who runs for town council every 4 years, and gets trounced by 60 points every time. The standard Republican smear campaign in this extremely white county is to link every Democratic candidate with the loathed "New York City", with the obvious implication that we support "those kind of people". Which is ironic, as we receive far more State aid, largely funded by NY City's tax base, than we pay in taxes back to Albany. And one of the county's largest "industries" is a prison mostly containing minority convicts from downstate, that is, NY City.

    So if you want to be remotely relevant here, you have to show up at town & county meetings, personally meet and make yourself known to the Republican politicians, speak politely; and never, ever say anything remotely contentious or progressive, because that would get you blacklisted. This means holding your tongue during bat-shit insane discussions about "Al-Qaeda terrorists hiding out among all them Mexican farm workers".

    Tell me again how this is a democracy?

    •  And the same freak show in much of Texas... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      US Blues, SuWho, Ckntfld, Calamity Jean

      You're far from alone.

      Whether it's Idaho, rural NY, Texas, or one of many other states, we're all seeing the same extremism in local and state politics.  And looking at what's been going on in Wisconsin, we know it isn't even just limited to "wingnut" states like Idaho, Utah, Texas, and Oklahoma.

      Like you, I plan to vote in the Republican primary since that's the only way to have a say in my state and local races.  Fortunately, we don't (yet) have party registration in order to vote in primaries in Texas.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Mon May 14, 2012 at 05:54:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly, we do have party registration in NY. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I have to register as a Democrat to have any say in who runs for Governor, or U.S. Senator. It's a tough call, but overall I'd rather have the option of voting against corrupt corporate collaborationists like Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary, even if it prevents me from voting against maniac teabaggers on the Republican side.

      •  Exactly right down here in TX. In my county even (0+ / 0-)

        hospital/school/water board primaries and elections have the batshit people advertising their teabagger bona fides.

        As far as "party registration", your voter reg ID card does get marked as to which primary ballot you used. I know that this info is also retained in a database because it triggers who you receive political junk mail from. I used to crossover in the primary (Dems are scarce) partly just to get on their mailing lists and see what they were up to (Rescummie junk mail is toxic stuff).
        They must track it religiously because since I voted in a Dem primary to try and remove Blue Dog Henry Cuellar, I haven't gotten much of the Rescummie crap.

        "Double, double, toile and trouble; Fire burne, and Cauldron bubble... By the pricking of my Thumbes, Something wicked this way comes": Republicans Willkommen auf das Vierte Reich! Sie Angelegenheit nicht mehr.

        by Bluefin on Mon May 14, 2012 at 01:30:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Frank Church must be spinning like a lathe (6+ / 0-)

    in his grave. The Democratic party really has to look at itself closely to understand how it allowed a state to go from sending an anti-war liberal like Church to the senate 6 times to being a haven for right wing sociopaths.

    If I knew it was comin', I could pull a jet plane.--Reggie Jackson

    by LongTom on Mon May 14, 2012 at 07:45:14 AM PDT

  •  Same situation, just reversed, here in Maryland (0+ / 0-)

    I live in the DC suburbs in an overwhelmingly Democratic area. I was never sufficiently enamored of the Democrats to think of myself as one, but I've had to register as such in order to vote in the only local elections that count, which are the Democratic primaries. I bet there are many more areas that are similar.

    But at least all the Democratic candidates tend to be either reasonable or inconsequential. (It's always entertaining to see who tries to dethrone Steny Hoyer.)

  •  Living in Spokane, I can appreciate your situation (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuWho, Ckntfld, geonerd

    all to well, Idaho07. Hang in there best you can. With no offense intended, I can only think of one redder state perhaps, and that would be Idaho, or South Carolina too I think.

    •  I would have to say Wyoming is the super Red (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuWho, Ckntfld

      state. I went to high school in a small town. I remember when I turned 18 I got to vote for Jimmy Carter and my Vo Ag teacher went ballistic on me saying the world would end if Carter was elected.

      "I want my fair share, and that's all of it" - Charles Koch

      by nancat357 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 11:33:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Another Spotucky resident here ... (0+ / 0-)

      I live in Spokane, too. This is the city that made Cathy McMorris-Rodgers' chief of staff our new mayor. He had the balls to run as a "non-partisan" candidate, and people bought that shit! Sheesh. On the bright side, my district is majority Democratic, but it's a little bit like living on a small island surrounded by an ocean of delusional sharks. I hear the west side of the state is very pleasant. Except for the rain, of course :)

      •  Welcome. Spotucky eh? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Never heard that before, but it probably fits. I hear you about Condron. To me he looks like a baby faced Tea Party idiot. Re: McMorris, I hope the guy that ran North by Northwest is able to give her a run for her money. I hope he REALLY scares her, if nothing else. He has the $ I believe. Rich Cowan is his name. Check out his website.

  •  Primaries are so important. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People complain about the choices on election day - well primaries are where those choices get made.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Mon May 14, 2012 at 09:30:46 AM PDT

  •  Take inspiration from Kansas. (0+ / 0-)

    Yeah, I know, they now have Governor Brownback, but for awhile they had Kathleen Sebelius as a Democratic governor and there was a Democratic Lt. Governor.  The two of them used to be Republicans until their party deserted them.  There were enough Dems, Independents and fed-up Republicans to elect Sebelius to the governorship and for awhile, sanity was somewhat preserved.  Then Obama put Sebelius in his cabinet, the Democratic Lt. Governor either didn't want to run or realized he wasn't going to win (or lost, I just can't recall) and Brownback was swept in in 2010.

    Maybe Idaho can cobble together enough of a coalition to thwart the idjits?

    •  I keep the faith. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have conservative friends who called, wanting to know about Obama, in 2008. I know other conservatives who became disgusted with the RCC here and switched parties to vote for Democratic candidate Keith Allred for Governor.

      Folks here still love Cecil Andrus. I still admire Republic Governor Phil Batt, who was conservative to the bone, but was a proud Idahoan first, and did as good a job for all of us as Andrus (the 2 are good friends).

      Idaho Democrats are moderate to conservative on our scale, and we all share the same Libertarian tendencies in some things. There used to be only a few degrees of difference that separated most of our politicians, and I fully believe we will eventually return to what we once were.

      Old Mother Idaho is not gentle to her children, but they never truly leave. She marks us all in our hearts.

      Right many are called, and damn few are chosen.

      by Idaho07 on Mon May 14, 2012 at 04:20:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your diary. If it weren't for Kos & (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    diaries like yours I would never know what is going on in the rest of the country (outside my locality). The MSM certainly either has no clue and/or is not reporting.

    "'s difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

    by Mayfly on Mon May 14, 2012 at 05:48:21 PM PDT

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