- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee kicked off Idaho’s GOP Convention on Thursday in front of hundreds of state delegates charged with selecting a new state chairman and amending the party platform.

The GOP convention is meeting in Moscow, Idaho, over the next three days.

Huckabee, who is also a former 2008 presidential candidate, received a warm welcome from the GOP delegates attending the event while speaking on limiting the federal government and strengthening states’ rights.

“We need folks who think that the best government is local government,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee added that he was jealous of Idaho’s Republican-dominated legislature. When he was elected as governor in Arkansas, Huckabee said, he faced a Democratic legislature. The story was met with groans from the audience.

The convention comes a few weeks after the May primary that pitted established candidates campaigning against tea party favorites and revealed fractures inside the party.

Those cracks were already showing Thursday after spirited discussion erupted over the credentials committee -which will meet Friday to determine the eligibility of a handful of Ada County delegates- during the executive meeting.

Delegates are expected to possibly amend the state party’s more conservative platforms such returning to the gold-based currency system and repealing the 17th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which would return the appointment of U.S. Senators to state legislatures rather than direct election.

Republicans will also vote on a state party chairman. At least three names are in the running so far. Those include current chair Barry Peterson, who is seeking a second term; Blackfoot sheepherder Mike Duff; and Premier Technology President Doug Sayer, who is also from Blackfoot.

Huckabee acknowledged the differences in the Republican Party but stressed that the party’s core values would benefit the country’s economy.

“There are all kinds of Republicans, even in this room,” Huckabee said. “I don’t know anybody in this room who believes that we need more power in Washington, D.C., and less in places like Idaho.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul -known for his libertarian views and considered a potential candidate in the 2016 presidential election- will speak later at the convention.

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