Outgoing state schools superintendent Tom Luna says he has been approached about running for the state Republican Party chairmanship, which could be up for grabs at the state GOP convention next month.
In a statement Friday, Luna said he has “no plans to run for party chair at this time.” But Luna didn’t rule it out either, and said he would consider a run if recruited by Gov. Butch Otter.
The chairmanship, an unpaid position, has been a source of friction between Otter and some members of his own party. During a televised debate on May 14, Otter lamented that Republicans had tossed out Kirk Sullivan, his choice for chairman, during the 2008 state convention.
Otter has clashed with the current party chairman, Barry Peterson of Mountain Home. (In this May 1 article, Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman chronicles a public confrontation between Otter and Peterson.)
Peterson is seeking a second two-year term, reports Popkey, and Otter has declined to endorse him. And on Thursday, Popkey reported that Otter may stay out of the fray entirely, and may leave it to GOP delegates to select a chair at the party’s convention in Moscow.
So where does Luna enter the picture? As Popkey reported Thursday, several names have surfaced as possible challengers, including Luna; Russ Fulcher, the state senator who lost in his bid to unseat Otter in the May 20 primary; and Doug Sayer, a Blackfoot businessman and the brother of Jeff Sayer, Otter’s Commerce Department director.
Here’s Luna’s statement to me, in full.
“I have been approached about the GOP chairman position. As I said before: If the governor were to ask me, I would consider it. However, I have no plans to run for party chair at this time. I believe the next party chairman should be the person Gov. Otter supports, and I plan to support whoever the governor wants to serve.”