- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - Attempts to lessen the far right’s hold on the Idaho Republican Party’s core policies stalled Thursday during the first day of the state’s GOP convention.

Instead, members of the party’s platform committee not only reaffirmed they supported the Idaho Republican Party’s policy supporting the gold standard and repealing the 17th Amendment that has U.S. senators popularly elected, it also approved new policies arguing that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and climate change is because of God not humans.

“We are gold and silver advocates. We are not big-government advocates,” said Tom Dillon, a Republican from Sandpoint.

The panel also backed a proposal stating the U.S. Constitution was a divinely inspired document and another opposing mandatory preschool. “We … urge Congress to repeal government sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development,” one of the proposals stated.

The proposals approved Wednesday must still pass the general assembly, which won’t meet until Saturday. Party officials often jockey to place strategic members on committees in order to pass or veto certain policies, rules or resolutions, but a key hurdle is passing them in front of the entire Republican body.

In the 2008 and 2010 conventions, libertarians’ surging influence on Idaho’s GOP coincided with the rise of tea-party disenchantment with government, particularly the federal variety in Washington, D.C. At those conventions, new libertarian-backed planks were overwhelmingly added to the party platform - the GOP’s guiding document - urging the Federal Reserve’s abolition, the gold standard’s resurrection, support for “nullifying” federal laws and abandoning popular elections of U.S. senators. Mainstream Republicans have rolled their eyes at such proclamations, but they have failed to secure enough political power to have them removed.

This year’s three-day convention is currently taking place in Nampa. The party will spend the next few days amending policies, rules and resolutions, as well as electing new party officers. The Idaho Republican Party failed to pass any new platforms in 2014 after political infighting resulted in chaos and ended without getting anything done.

The first day resembled very little of the frenzied 2014 convention, which ended in chaos because of political infighting. GOP Chairman Steve Yates, who is running for re-election, stressed that the most important focus of the party is identifying and retaining Republicans as the general election nears. However, signs that the Republican big tent hadn’t completely forgotten its differences were already popping up in the convention’s first meeting.

Allegations of misuse of party funds and crooked accounting forced party treasurer Chris Harriman to stand up during the executive committee meeting and say that the party’s finances are sound.

“This is small, small group making these claims,” said David Johnston, the GOP’s executive director, adding that the party had come in under the budgeted $75,000 on the convention and raised more than the $150,000 anticipated goal.

“We have exceeded our expectations,” Johnston said.

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