By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Republican Party elected Rep. Dorothy Moon on Saturday to chair the party, unseating Tom Luna and prompting convention delegates to erupt in cheers.
Rep. Dorothy Moon challenged chair Tom Luna after she unsuccessfully ran for Secretary of State in May.
The election happened on the third day of the Twin Falls state GOP convention and Moon won in a 434-287 vote.
Luna was in his first term as chairman. Moon is a current member of the Idaho Legislature, but didn’t seek re-election to the House so she could run for Secretary of State.
Kootenai County Central Committee Chairman Brent Regan nominated Moon on Saturday. Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, seconded the motion.
Moon said she wanted to build a sustainable financial platform, modernize the Republican Party infrastructure and reach out to young voters.
“As your chairman, you can count on me to share your principles,” Moon said. “You won’t catch me hosting a convention at a location that strips visitors of their Second Amendment rights.”
The comment drew roaring cheers from the audience.
The statement served as a jab at Luna for holding the convention at the College of Southern Idaho, which does not allow guns on campus. Doors outside the auditorium had signs on them noting the prohibition of firearms in the building.
Rep. Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell, nominated Luna on Saturday.
In speeches prior to voting, Luna vowed to move the party forward. He touted raising $2.9 million for the Republican Party and registering 159,000 new Republican voters.
“By any measure, the Republican Party is larger, stronger, and more financially secure than it’s ever been,” Luna said. “If I am elected we will continue to raise a lot of money, we will continue to register record numbers of conservative voters, we will continue to modernize our tools and the technology we use and we will continue to win. Being party chair is a tough job. I didn’t do everything right, I made mistakes, but I own them and I always did my best.”
Luna faced pushback during the convention regarding a lawsuit filed against the Bonneville County Central Committee after the state central committee said it violated bylaws.
Luna filed the lawsuit in his capacity as chairman, against Bonneville County Republican Central Committee, for making what he characterized as unauthorized donations to non-county level candidates. The May lawsuit called it a “blatant disregard” for statutory obligations.
Campaigning went on during the convention addressing the lawsuit and criticizing him for filing the lawsuit. That lawsuit remains pending in Ada County.
In his speech Saturday, Luna addressed it head-on.
“During this convention there’s been lots of talk about the lawsuit and I know that,” Luna said. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons and a lot of lessons have been taught. There are things that both sides could have done better and I own that.”
Moon has also faced pushback from other members of the party. When running for Secretary of State, she declined to acknowledge President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
She introduced a bill during the 2022 legislative session that would have required proof of citizenship at the polls, but the bill failed to pass.
She has also voiced support for former Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger, who has since been convicted of raping a legislative intern.
Other statewide GOP seats
Every member of statewide party leadership lost their seat on Saturday.
Daniel Silver won the seat for 1st vice chair in a 367-358 vote against challenger Machele Hamilton. Hamilton was the incumbent, while Silver is the chairman of Idaho Young Republicans.
Mark Fuller won the seat for 2nd vice chair, ousting incumbent Mike Mathews in a 437-283 vote. Fuller is the Bonneville County Central Committee chairman.
Maria Nate won the seat for secretary in a 438-285 vote against challenger Caleb Hoobery. Incumbent Secretary Marla Lawson did not seek reelection. Nate is the wife of Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, and a former delegate for President Donald Trump. Hoobery is secretary for the Gem County Central Committee and in May lost his primary race for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Steve Bender won the seat for treasurer in a 401-318 vote against incumbent Stephen Parrott. Bender is the former Ada County Central Committee treasurer.