The drive to get rid of the closed Republican primary election is picking up steam with the help of Idahoans from across the political spectrum. Just last month, Butch and Lori Otter announced a group of well over a hundred traditional Republicans who support the initiative. The group, Republicans for Open Primaries, believes that all Idahoans should have the right to choose our leaders, instead of restricting their selection to hand-picked candidates of top GOP bosses.
A cross-partisan veterans group, Veterans for Idaho Voters, says the closed primary blocks 270,000 independents from voting in our most important elections. Military veterans represent one of the largest blocks of Idaho’s independent voters and it’s “just plain wrong” that they “can’t vote in publicly funded primaries.”
The Idaho chapter of Mormon Women for Ethical Government came out in support of the initiative on October 7. The group’s press advisory says: “The Open Primaries ballot initiative is intended to restore Idaho’s open electoral system and return political power to the people. The initiative maximizes voter participation by creating a nonpartisan primary system where all voters, not just those registered to a party, may participate…It aims to produce better leaders with broad support who are incentivized to serve the will of the people and not just a small slice of primary voters.”
Reclaim Idaho, which is running the ground game for collecting signatures to put the initiative on the 2024 general election ballot, says, “The Open Primaries initiative will give all Idaho voters, regardless of party, the freedom to vote in all elections.” Reclaim’s more than 1,000 volunteer signature gatherers have been encountering great voter enthusiasm for the initiative. Signature collections have exceeded projections, thanks to the hard work of those remarkable volunteers.
The people and organizations supporting the initiative deserve our thanks for advancing this good government measure. But, it is important to also thank those who are doing their level best to show why the initiative is desperately needed. Dorothy Moon, the current chair of the extremist branch of the Idaho GOP, and the far-right legislators controlled by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) are a large factor in driving support for the initiative. Their continuing grasp for control of the election process has been a critical factor in growing the support for the citizen initiative which will protect the voting rights of Idahoans.
Six top officers of the Ada County Republican Central Committee recently resigned because Dorothy Moon’s party “seems intent on telling the voters for whom they should vote through vetting and party endorsements….Party elites will now pick candidates….The Party believes the average voter is too uniformed, too ignorant, and too unsophisticated to make good choices.” The resigning officers, led by former county chair Victor Miller, said, “the state party no longer embraces grassroots voters and candidates but has created a new oligarchy that values control, ‘purity testing’ and bullying that are un-Republican.” The traditional Idaho Republicans supporting the Open Primaries Initiative would agree wholeheartedly.
The resignations followed moves by the Moon faction to concentrate party control in a tight group of functionaries, to exclude those who are suspected of being disloyal to the party line and to make the GOP a “private club.” We will witness additional bad conduct along these lines in the upcoming session of the Idaho Legislature. Being an election year, the party radicals will likely be unrestrained.
Between the authoritarian bent of Moon’s party leadership and the misconduct of IFF-controlled legislators, voters will be presented with a stark choice at the general election next year–either live with the current system where Moon and her cronies will eventually control who gets elected to office, or vote for the Open Primaries Initiative so that the voters can decide for themselves who will hold important public offices.