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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 19 - 25, 2002


Republican Party convenes in Sun Valley

GOP talks redistricting, passes resolutions

Express Staff Writer

The state’s political powerhouse descended on Blaine County this week for the Idaho Republican Party’s first state convention in Sun Valley since 1984.

Banners proclaiming "Dirk," "Otter for Idaho," "Jim Risch, Lt. Governor" and "Larry Craig, Idaho’s Senator" adorned Sun Valley resort in this county known for its liberal politics. Members of Idaho’s all-Republican congressional delegation, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, and numerous other state and local politicians and candidates milled amidst the crowds.

Bud Purdy, right, long-time Picabo rancher, asks Assistant Secretary of State Ben Ysura to take care of a sheepherder painting presented to Carey rancher and Secretary of State Pete Cennerusa, who is stepping down from one of the longest reigns in Idaho government. Express photo by Willy Cook

Sculptures of two giant pachyderms stood guard over the entrance to a tent where the state Republican Party’s platforms and resolutions were negotiated and debated.

Sen. Larry Craig, who faces Blaine County resident and former Wall Street investment banker Allen Blinken in the November general election, gave a campaign speech, asking for "support." He stressed Blinken’s thick wallet and the failure of Democrats to understand Idaho.

"We have a party that doesn’t understand us," Craig said. And he said it seems ironic that a Democrat, Blinken, is promising Idahoans jobs when another Democrat, former President Bill Clinton, allegedly took jobs away with his environmental policies.

Craig’s finance chairman, Skip Symser, elaborated on the pending Senate race.

"We are up against a very well-financed individual," he said. "It is serious, because they have the money, they have the resources. On Nov. 6, the headlines are going to read, ‘New York banker coming home.’"

Craig finished his speech amidst a crowd chanting, "six more years, six more years, six more years."

The convention wasn’t all speeches, campaigning and pep rallies, however.

Business kicked off Monday afternoon when eastern and northern Republicans faced off on state redistricting regulations.

Still smarting from a new redistricting plan that pitted several incumbents against one another and focused power on urban Idaho, eastern Idaho conservatives sponsored a resolution calling for change. The resolution, which was defeated on a voice vote, would have required the state commission on redistricting to meet around the state and would have prevented any two members of the panel from living in the same county.

State Rep. JoAn Wood, R-Rigby, helped to defeat the resolution. Wood is supporting a change in the party’s platform that would return redistricting power to the Legislature.

"The commission was a failure," she said. "It was meant to be non-political. It was much more political than anything the Idaho Legislature has done."

The remainder of the resolutions considered Monday was passed without debate on a voice vote and included a measure to urge the state’s congressional delegation to seek withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations in order to "extricate our nation from the threat of freedom" posed by the international group.

The other resolutions adopted Monday urged the state GOP to support increased federal spending on silver, to allow people to seek damages when sued in "frivolous environmental lawsuits," to galvanize the party’s opposition to wolf and grizzly bear reintroduction, to work toward holding all elections on one of four days in the year, and to urge opposition of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international financing groups.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.