- Associated Press - Saturday, June 4, 2016

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) - Republicans at the 2016 state convention changed very little of their party’s structure after gathering in Nampa for three days, but that didn’t stop delegates from declaring this year’s confab a major victory after successfully avoiding falling into chaos that plagued the GOP convention just two years prior.

Chairman Steve Yates will continue to lead the party for another two years. He secured a second term by defeating opponents Mike Duff, a sheep farmer from Blackfoot, and Kathy Sims, a former state representative.

Meanwhile, the party’s guiding document - known as the platform - will also remain the same after delegates rejected adopting any new amendments. The day before, a convention committee had approved adding a platform arguing that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant and climate change is because of God not humans. Other changes included platforms stating that the U.S. Constitution was a divinely inspired document and another opposing mandatory preschool.

The party’s platform hasn’t been amended since 2012.

Saturday’s peaceful conclusion of the three-day convention was a far cry of the frantic scene of 2014. Back then, political infighting prevented the GOP convention from accomplishing anything and leaving many Republicans discouraged about the effectiveness of their party. While factions still exist inside Idaho’s Republican Party, delegates on Saturday pointed to Yates as being a key member in re-unifying the party.

“Two years ago, the Idaho Republican Party took a risk on me. None of you knew who I was or where I came from, but what you did know was that you had arrived at a place where there was so much mistrust, so much dissension that business literally could not be conducted at a convention,” Yates said. “Since that time I’ve done everything that I could to make my service to the party, not about me.”

For the past two years, Yates has had to manage various factions such as Libertarian-leaning supporters, social conservatives, and tea party members disenchanted with so-called establishment Republicans.

Yet despite his overall praise from fellow party leaders, Yates came under fire earlier this year when GOP official Doyle Beck released footage that he secretly filmed the chairman criticizing other prominent Republicans. In the recording, Yates was shown criticizing Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, the state’s top business lobbying arm and other GOP members. He has since said that he was intentionally playing head games with Beck.

Fallout from that recording wasn’t a focal point during the convention.

“I remember the fiasco that had gone on up there (in 2014),” said Chuck Winder, an Ada County delegate and state Senate assistant majority leader. “A lot of people say we didn’t accomplish anything, but I think we did. I think we accomplished the fact that we are here today working together in a way I haven’t seen in four years, and that’s because of Yates.”

The final day of the convention did attract protesters from the Idaho 3 percent movement, which draws its name from the notion that only 3 percent of Americans actively participated in the Revolutionary War. The protesters declined to speak to the media, but said they were hoping to talk to Republicans about Ammon Bundy, the leader of a wildlife refuge occupation in Oregon who is now in jail and faces several federal charges.

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