Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher is urging Democrats, Libertarians and members of the Constitution Party to re-register and vote in the May 20 closed Republican primary.
“NEXT FRIDAY, March 14, is the last day you can change your party affiliation to Republican in order to vote in the May 20 Republican Primary,” Fulcher wrote in an email Wednesday. “If you are currently affiliated with the Democratic, Libertarian, or Constitution party, you will NOT be able to vote in the May Republican Primary, unless you change your party affiliation to Republican.”
The Meridian Republican explains how members of the three other officially recognized parties can re-register and provides links to the Idaho Political Party Affiliation Declaration Form that must be filed by voters wishing to change affiliation and contact information for the 44 county clerks.
Fulcher told the Statesman Thursday that his outreach to non-Republicans is part of his strategy to unseat two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter.
“I am definitely reaching out,” Fulcher said. “I truly believe under our current leadership that a lot of people have been driven away from our party. If I’m going to be successful I’ve got to be able to pull them in, or at least some of them, and unite that effort.
“I’m not specifically trying to target any one sector, but because our party has been so fractured, so many people have been driven away, absolutely, I’m reaching out and trying to get them back in the fold for this primary election,” Fulcher said.
Last week, Otter expressed concern that many voters may not wish to sign up as Republicans and said his campaign would be informing supporters of deadlines.
On Monday, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa – who is Otter’s campaign co-chairman — reminded voters of the March 14 deadline, which applies to about 57,000 registered Democrats, 3,400 Libertarians and 1,700 Constitution Party members. The deadline does not apply to 440,000 unaffiliated voters who may choose a GOP ballot on Election Day.
Asked on Monday whether he was openly suggesting Democrats re-register and vote GOP, Otter said, “Well, no, I’m not.”
Fulcher’s appeal and Otter’s statement don’t trouble a lead architect of the closed primary, former Senate Majority Leader Rod Beck, who is supporting Fulcher’s challenge to Otter. The closed primary was enacted in 2012 election after the Idaho Republican Party sued and won in federal court, over the objections of Otter, Ysursa and other elected Republicans.
Beck acknowledged the aim of the closed primary was to keep Democrats and other non-Republicans from helping nominate GOP candidates. “We wanted Republicans to choose Republican candidates,” Beck said Thursday.
But Beck, who represents Ada County on the State Republican Central Committee, said the law is flexible. “Obviously, we don’t want people switching back and forth all the time, but we allowed people to change affiliation.”
Added Beck: “The job of a candidate is getting as many votes as he can. It appears to me what Russ is doing is informing people, just like Butch Otter is doing. I don’t think he’s actively recruiting Democrats.”
Fulcher’s email follows:
Important Information to Vote in the May Election
There is an extremely important deadline approaching for our campaign:
NEXT FRIDAY, March 14, is the last day you can change your party affiliation to Republican in order to vote in the May 20 Republican Primary.
If you are currently affiliated with the Democratic, Libertarian, or Constitution party, you will NOT be able to vote in the May Republican Primary, unless you change your party affiliation to Republican.
This deadline is fast approaching, so please make sure you take care of this as soon as you can. We don’t want to see any voters turned away at the polls on election day.