Last paid Idaho Republican staffer leaves office

Last paid Idaho Republican staffer leaves office
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The last remaining paid staffer at the Idaho Republican Party has left, after the party failed to elect a new chairman at this year's chaotic state convention.

Financial director Mary Tipps Smith's departure means embattled state Chairman Barry Peterson is now alone at the party headquarters, with the exception of occasional volunteers.

Peterson has served one term in the volunteer position. The chairman helps with recruiting and maintaining members, campaign fundraising for general election candidates and influences party policy.

Smith said she left her position Wednesday after about a month on the job. She said she was the last paid staffer at Idaho's Republican.

She declined to comment further on why she left the party, however, in a Facebook post Wednesday she wrote that she "wished everyone all the very best."

"I hope all my wonderful Republican friends will forgive my departure from the staff of the Idaho Republican Party," she wrote.

Her departure follows former Executive Director Trevor Thorpe's resignation. Thorpe left the party just days after the conclusion of the failed state convention several weeks ago.

Calls to the Republican Party were not answered Wednesday and an answering machine said the voicemail was full. Peterson recently had the locks changed at the office.

Peterson would not comment Thursday morning when contacted by The Associated Press.

"Who are you? The press? I don't want to talk to you," he said, before hanging up the phone.

Chaos and division have plagued Idaho's GOP ever since the state convention ended in a meltdown. For the first time in nearly 60 years, Republicans failed to elect a new chairman or pass a single platform amendment.

The dividing lines between far-right conservatives and establishment Republicans in Idaho have been around for years, but the conflict has come to a head over the past few weeks as both sides have fought for control of the party.

Last week, Peterson sent out a news release calling for a special state central committee to determine the rightful party chairman on Aug. 9. Peterson did not list when or where the meeting will take place and did not return calls asking for more details.

A group of Republicans, however, remain unconvinced Peterson still has the authority to call committee meetings. Arguing that his two-year elected term expired, they say they will meet with the state central committee on Aug. 2 in Boise to figure out who is the head of the party.