Idaho National Committeeman Bryan Smith and Idaho GOP Chair Dorothy Moon.

Dorothy Moon Retains Idaho GOP Chair, Conservatives Win All State Officer Seats

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COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – The conservative firebrand Dorothy Moon of Custer County won a second term as the Idaho GOP Chair with 376 votes at the Republican State Convention in Coeur d’Alene on June 15, 2024. She was challenged by former Idaho legislator Mary Souza of Kootenai County who garnered 228 votes. Cheers erupted throughout the auditorium when Moon was announced the winner.

There was a concerted effort by members of Gem State Conservatives and North Idaho Republicans to unseat Moon, running a statewide campaign to replace as many precinct committeemen as possible in last month’s primary in a bid to earn as many delegate seats as possible. There are estimates that over $2 million was spent in this endeavor, which has been dubbed “The Gem State Heist” by Idaho conservatives. Two prior Idaho GOP Chairs, Tom Luna and Trent Clark, have been outspoken in their disdain for Moon’s conservative brand, claiming the party needs a “course correction.” By their frequent commentary, neither Luna nor Clark appear to support President Trump.

Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones regularly chimes in with opinion editorials. In one piece published in the Idaho Press, Jones called Moon an “upstart” and claimed “meaningless culture war issues will remind voters of those good old times when traditional Republicans worked with Democrats to actually get something done to address real problems.” Jones failed to articulate what “culture war issues” Republicans should retreat from, would it be gender fluid and transgender ideology or the abortion on-demand industry or the narrative that America is inherently and systematically racist?

The conservative wing of the party swept all their nominees to victory. In perhaps the most notable example, Bryan Smith won National Committeeman 390-200 over Tom Luna. In his candidate speech, Smith praised Moon’s efforts to return the party to the grassroots and blasted the Gem State Heist. “For the last year a small and lonely faction of our party joined with some Democrats to form what’s been called the Gem State Heist, which has sought to warp and detract her [Moon] at every turn. Let me explain it this way. Chair Moon has been like a surgeon operating to save the life of a patient whose health has been in decline. While performing life-saving surgery, detractors have been shaking the operating table. These table shakers have been intent on destroying the surgeon with literally no regard to saving the life of the patient.” Smith promised to stand by Chair Moon in his position as National Committeeman and “against the table shakers.”

Smith also spoke out against Reclaim Idaho’s “Open Primary” Initiative. “I will do all in my power to defeat the leftist plot known as ranked-choice voting,” stated Smith. “Let’s be clear, ranked-choice voting is intended to destroy the Republican Party, and it’s intended to turn our state blue, and that’s a hill I am willing to die on.” The house erupted with thunderous approval when Smith’s win was announced. One source told the Kootenai Journal that the crowd booed Luna off the stage and one person even called out “Don’t sue me bro!” in reference to Luna suing the Bonneville County Central Committee during his tenure as state chair. No other candidate was treated as harshly as Luna by the delegation.

Mark Fuller beat Wayne Hurst 382-223 for First Vice Chair. Viki Purdy garnered 403 votes to win the Second Vice Chair seat over Billy Knopp. Marie Nate earned a second term as Secretary with 387 votes to Charlene Matheson’s 212 votes. Steve Bender pulled in the highest vote tally with 412-187 over Bryan Garrett to become Treasurer, and Vicki Keen solidly beat Shelley Blanchard 396-191 for National Committeewoman.

Left to right: Vicki Keen, Bryan Smith, Dorothy Moon, Mark Fuller, Viki Purdy, Maria Nate, and Steve Bender. (Photo courtesy of Sue Gaston.)