Is Idaho’s Republican Party moving in the ‘right’ direction?

With the 2022 midterm election quickly approaching, there have been many changes in Idaho’s political landscape
Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 9:48 AM MST
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — With the 2022 midterm election quickly approaching, there have been many changes in Idaho’s political landscape. Some are now wondering if Idaho’s Republican Party is moving in the wrong direction and if a Democratic blue wave is on the horizon.

Just a few weeks ago, Idaho Lieutenant Governor candidate Luke Malek dropped out of the race and said he is going to direct his support and resources toward fellow Lieutenant Governor candidate Rep. Scott Bedke (R-Oakley), who is currently Idaho’s House Speaker. He said his reason for doing so is he is concerned he and Bedke would split the vote, and the Primary would go to Rep. Priscilla Giddings (R-White Bird). He feels Giddings is a threat and is taking the Idaho Republican Party in the wrong direction.

“I call it extremism, and I kind of define extremism as someone who is willing to do or say anything whether they believe it or not to promote themselves, and that is what I see with Priscilla [Giddings],” Malek said.

He also said who he sees Giddings and current Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is running for Governor of Idaho, as two candidates who look to create problems to market themselves, instead of looking to solve problems. Malek said he considers Governor Brad Little and Bedke as problem solvers.

“Whatever crazy theory is being thrown out there as why this is bad for freedom, and we need to raise more money off of it. I am very concerned about the Lieutenant Governor and her race,” Malek said.

However Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna said candidates don’t decide which direction the party goes, voters do.

“I’m convinced the majority of the voters want more of what the Republicans have done. Just look at this last legislative session. We had the largest tax cut in the history of the state,” Luna said.

He also said he doesn’t necessarily see former president Donald Trump’s endorsement of McGeachin as a game-changer, or the legislature reconvening last month for a 72-hour session, partly to address vaccine mandates, as an appeal to far-right Republicans. In if fact, he thinks the session was a success.

“In my mind, they made it clear to businesses that if businesses don’t respond then they will,” Luna said.

The chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party Fred Cornforth thinks the Idaho Republicans have lost their way and fragmented into three groups fighting amongst each other.

“I think the most troubling thing is the Moderate Republicans have shifted right as well, and they are trying to win over that group. It’s like why don’t you focus on meeting Idahoans needs,” Cornforth said.

He also said the infighting could create an opportunity for Idaho Democrats in 2022.

“We have over 40 [candidates] now that are running for both the [Idaho] House and Senate. That is more than we have had run in over 20 years,” Cornforth said.

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