In response to the Legislature removing the March presidential primary, the Idaho Republican Party State Central Committee voted overwhelmingly to host a presidential nominating caucus on March 2, 2024. Without this caucus, more than half a million Republicans in Idaho will have no say in our own nomination for president.
Now, the Senate President Pro Tempore is circulating a petition for the Legislature to call itself back into session, but only to hear a bill to create a presidential primary on the third Tuesday in May. This is an absolute non-starter for the Idaho Republican Party.
The Idaho GOP strongly opposed the bill to remove the March presidential primary. The state party had worked closely with lawmakers after the presidential caucus in 2012 to move the presidential primary to March, a collaboration that led to a very successful election in 2016. Idaho Republicans made their voices heard in a Presidential election that was still competitive at the time.
Senator Ted Cruz won the 2016 Idaho presidential primary, but suspended his campaign on May 3 that year. A May primary would have been pointless. In fact, nearly every Republican primary going back to 1980 was decided before the third Tuesday in May. Why bother having a primary at all if it will have no bearing on the nomination? It’s a waste of time for both candidates and voters.
A March caucus gives Idaho Republicans a chance to make their voice heard. Contrary to rumors you might have heard, the caucus does not disenfranchise Idaho voters. The State Central Committee chose to schedule it on Saturday, March 2, making it convenient for the vast majority of citizens. Even families with children are welcome — Republicans believe children should learn about how our country works! On the other hand, a May primary would disenfranchise every Republican in Idaho by taking away their opportunity to influence the nomination.
The State Central Committee made it clear at our regular Summer Meeting that only a March primary would do. When we voted to hold a caucus next year, we agreed to a caveat in case the Legislature convened for a special session and restored the March presidential primary. It must be the March primary, though. Convening a special session to create a presidential primary in May will only waste public money and the Legislature’s time.
Let me be clear: a May presidential primary is the same thing as not having a presidential nominating contest at all. That is exactly why the Idaho GOP will hold a caucus next March. The Idaho Republican Party is committed not only to making sure your voice is heard, but doing so when it matters — in March, when the primary is still being contested, rather than in May, when it is all but over.