by Gretel Kauffman, MAGICVALLEY.COM
MOUNTAIN HOME — The Constitution Party of Idaho voted to break off from the national Constitution Party Saturday following several years of contentious relations between the two organizations.
Turnout for the state party’s annual convention in Mountain Home was modest, but leaders spoke optimistically of party growth, particularly among young voters.
There are 2,946 registered Constitution Party members in Idaho in 2018, up substantially from 395 in 2012.
Delegates said they hoped opening up their presidential primary to independent voters would help grow the party further. Those in attendance voted unanimously Saturday to open up the primary in 2020.
“It could give us that potential for name recognition,” said Anthony Tompkins, a delegate from Twin Falls and candidate for the state legislature in District 24. “They’ll see that name and they’ll possibly get behind that name.”
A more controversial question — whether to disaffiliate from the national Constitution Party — was also decided unanimously.
A longstanding dispute between the state and national parties stemmed from disagreement over the best method for selecting national party nominees, state chairman Floyd Whitley said. The national party relies on a proxy voting system through a selection committee.
Whitley and other delegates at the convention said they are opposed to proxies and feel that national candidates should be chosen by the voters with direct citizen ballots.
“What the national party is attempting to orchestrate is a theocracy, a flat-out theocracy,” Whitley said in an interview after the vote. “They believe that they are ordained and they believe they can rule by their own conscience.”..
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