Idaho GOP plans to elect new leader Saturday

Idaho GOP plans to elect new leader Saturday
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Republicans are poised to elect a new party leader after spending months entrenched in political infighting over who should have control of the state's GOP.

The state central committee, which serves as the Republican Party's governing body, will gather for a special meeting Saturday in Boise to vote on new party officers, including a party chairman.

It's a meeting many hope marks the end of a drawn out saga between Idaho's far right conservatives and traditional Republicans. Tensions between the two factions meant the party's convention in Moscow ended in chaos.

For the first time in 60 years, Republicans failed to elect any new party officers, resolutions or platforms after both sides attempted to use parliamentary challenges at the convention to gain the upper hand. Instead, the delegates adjourned without accomplishing anything.

Immediately following the convention, former chairman and tea party favorite Barry Peterson said he was still in charge— going as far to file a lawsuit to maintain his reign. A district judge eventually ruled his term expired at the convention's adjournment.

"This has been a wreck," said Steven Millington, Twin Falls County GOP chairman. "A wreck that started in Moscow and has gone on for almost two months but hopefully, we're almost done so we can move on to more important things ... We have an election coming up in about 90 days."

However, Millington said he's preparing to see political maneuvering at the meeting. One of the first orders of business Republicans will have to decide is who should lead the meeting, Millington said. Whoever is selected will control the tone and the agenda for the rest of the day.

"We may have not seen the last of the struggle," Millington said. "But success to me would be to just elect new officers so we can move on."

So far, chairman candidates include Idaho Falls businessman and former Dick Cheney aide Steve Yates, Cassia County Republican Chairman Douglas Pickett of Oakley and Blackfoot sheep-breeder Mike Duff, but other potential candidates could be announced at Saturday's meeting.

One name that won't be considered is Blackfoot businessman Doug Sayer.

Sayer had originally attempted to replace Peterson leading up to the state convention but after watching the political fallout, Sayer said he's withdrawing his name.

"I don't want anyone to think this is what we wanted, that we wanted to disrupt the convention so I could get elected at the special central committee," Sayer said, who added that he'll endorse anyone the committee selects.