POCATELLO — The Idaho Republican Party’s resolutions committee by a wide margin backed the idea of turning nonpartisan races for municipal offices such as mayor and city council.
A great number of elections throughout Idaho are nonpartisan, including judicial elections, school board elections and many elections for small district boards. But statewide offices, legislative seats and county commissioner races allow candidates to affiliate with a political party. Nearly all do so, though they can also run as independents.
But city elections are nonpartisan as well, meaning candidates run on their own platforms and generally without a great deal of involvement from political parties.
The GOP isn’t happy with that, saying it means fewer Republican voters participate in municipal elections, where turnout is often very low, and that it allows candidates more liberal than Republicans to win many municipal elections.
“The Democrats have absolutely, 100 percent, captured the city of Boise,” complained Ryan Davidson, chairman of the Ada County Republican Party and the resolution’s sponsor.
The city of Eagle, he claimed, had been taken over by “far-left, Bernie, socialist Democrats.”
“I believe that by making city elections partisan … it will bring more Republicans out to the polls and stem the tide of Democrats taking over city government,” he said.
Some delegates said Republicans wouldn’t be likely to participate in a nonpartisan election, but if a candidate has an “R” next to their name GOP voters will turn out to support them.
The resolution passed by a wide margin. It will have no legal effect. Lawmakers would have to change state law in order to make municipal elections partisan.