Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who tops the latest poll of Republican presidential hopefuls for 2016, will deliver the banquet address at the Idaho Republican Party’s state convention on June 13.
Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson said Paul was invited by Idaho 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador.
“It’s a big deal,” Peterson said, adding that he believes Paul’s interest in Idaho was sparked in part by the GOP’s new county caucus system for picking presidential delegates to the national convention. The caucus was first used in 2012, with Mitt Romney winning all the Idaho delegates.
Paul polled 16 percent in a CNN/ORC poll last month, the latest public poll measuring early GOP support for the 2016 nomination. The others: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, 15 percent; retiring Texas Gov. Rick Perry, 11 percent; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, 10 percent; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, 9 percent; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, 8 percent; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 8 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, 5 percent; former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, 3 percent.
Sen. Paul is the son of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, an iconic figure for libertarian and tea party Republicans. Rep. Paul ran for president as the Libertarian Party’s nominee and as a Republican, most recently in 2012.
Banquet tickets are $50 for the public and $25 for convention delegates.
Peterson said Idaho GOP Sen. Jim Risch has arranged for Paul to sign two brass plates that will be affixed to long-barrel “Kentucky” rifles manufactured by October Country Muzzleloading Rifles of Hayden. One rifle will be raffled and the second will be auctioned to raise money for the GOP.
Peterson said the location of the dinner has yet to be set. If sponsors provide the $18,000 it costs to rent the Kibbie Dome at the University of Idaho, Peterson said that will be the preferred locale. If not, the event will be at a hotel convention center, he said.
While currently planning for 1,000 people to attend, Peterson mused, “Wouldn’t it be something if we had 18,000 people in the Kibbie Dome?”