Concerned Citizens of Idaho: A Call to Action


March 2, 2023

Concerned Citizens,

Members of the Idaho State Legislature and the Idaho Secretary of State have brought forward a bill that would change the presidential primary date, which is set in party bylaws by dues-paying members of the Republican Party. This effort was done without consulting Party leadership or elected leaders of State or County party organizations.

By shifting the primary from early March to late May, this bill will inversely impact voter participation; the relevancy of Idaho in a national presidential nominating contest; and it will render Idaho-specific issues — including our agricultural economy, our natural resource-based industries, and our emerging innovation hubs — a nullity in national discourse.

Special interests in our State seek to suppress voter enthusiasm and new voter turnout by moving our primary to a late date. They claim this move will save state tax dollars. They overlook, however, the revenue and investment that comes from national campaigns and national coverage. For example, South Carolina — an early presidential nominating state — estimates the positive impact on their tourism and hospitality industries has been upwards of several billion dollars. 

If the driving reason behind this legislation were to save a few dollars, there’s no reason why the leaders of this effort should not have consulted with the leaders of our organization first. 

But this isn’t about saving a few dollars: This proposal is being advanced because it will favor the established network of politicians who want to avoid the kind of scrutiny that comes from a primary election where voters are enthusiastic and excited about shaping the future of our state and, potentially, our larger republic.

The powerbrokers who still run Idaho think they can interfere in the inner workings of the Republican Party without consulting party leaders or members. This legislation not only makes our political party an organ of the State of Idaho — no different than a government agency or commission — but it potentially violates our Constitutional right of free association. Now is the time for concerned citizens living throughout Idaho to push back.

If you oppose this uninvited interference in the inner workings of the Idaho Republican Party — and are concerned about the dangerous precedent this sets for the State Legislature to meddle with the bylaws of other political, charitable or religious organizations’ right to free association — please contact the leaders of the Idaho State Legislature, the chairman of the germane committee, the original bill sponsors, and the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office:

Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Winder – (208) 332-1354

Senate Majority Leader Kelly Anthon – (208) 332-1327

Senate State Affairs Chairman Jim Guthrie – (208) 332-1348

Bill Sponsor Senator Mark Harris – (208) 332-1429

Bill Sponsor Representative Dustin Manwaring – (208) 332-1079

Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane – (208) 334-2300

Please remember to register your opposition with civility. We are simply asking the legislature and the Secretary of State to respect our constitutional rights and our organizational prerogatives.

This bill (HB138) is on the agenda to be heard tomorrow, March 3, in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Please consider attending tomorrow at 8:00am and sign up if you would like to testify about House Bill 138.

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