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North Idaho GOP's Batsh*t Plan: Take Over Local Democratic Party, Steal Donations, ?????, PROFIT
Why bother with democracy at all?
As we keep documenting in this little mommyblog, Idaho Republicans are a special kind of crazy. Lacking the national influence of a Florida or a Texas, Idaho punches well above its weight in pure rightwing batshittery. But for the purest distillation of rightwing Idaho crazy, you need to travel to the panhandle, up north, where plenty of folks are looking forward to a nice civil war , or at least fining anyone who doesn't own a gun.
And now it seems the Republicans in Kootenai County, which includes the area's largest city, Coeur d'Alene, have been scheming to infiltrate and take over the local Democratic Party so they can install a repulsive antisemitic agitator as party chair, redirect Democratic political donations to rightwing causes, and generally brag about how clever they are.
Even more bizarrely, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC, which is one letter too many to be a radio station) might just manage to pull it off, although local Democrats are mobilizing to head that off.
'If We Pull This Off We'll Eat Like Kings!'
The scheme came to light Wednesday when the Coeur d'Alene Press published details of a recorded phone call to John Grimm, a local Republican who ran unsuccessfully for county sheriff in 2020. In Idaho, it's legal to record phone calls with "one party" consent. The caller, Grimm says, was KCRCC Youth Chair Dan Bell, who had a simple proposition: "Long story short, we want to take over the Democrat Party. [...] If we pull this off, this will be national news."
Well golly, Yr Wonkette is certainly national.
Grimm told the paper he recorded the call because he wanted to have it on record.
I know from personal observation that certain members of the KCRCC are masters of deception with an ability to twist the meaning of even their own statements.
Grimm is a super-conservative Republican, but of the non-batshit variety that doesn't like how the full-on extremists are taking over the local GOP. (See? Idaho does so have a two-party system!)
The scheme is some pretty straightforward ratfucking that takes advantage of the fact that Kootenai County just plain doesn't have that big a Democratic Party. The KCRCC would run its own slate of candidates to be Democratic precinct captains. The Coeur d'Alene Press explains how that could work:
Elected by partisan primary voters in May of each even-numbered year, precinct captains are part of both county and legislative district central committees.
Leaders elected by these central committees then elect the state party leaders.
Kootenai County has 70 precincts. There are only 21 Democrat precinct captains. The remaining  precincts are vacant, compared to 10 vacant Republican precincts.
The scheme is pretty much a variation on the national plan by Donald Trump supporters to take over state and local Republican party organizations from the ground up, except in Kootenai County the idea is to seize control of the opposition party, for the sheer ratfucking joy of it.
What If They Held A Primary And Nobody Ran?
When the story ran on Wednesday, the Press reports, only 11 candidates had filed to run for those precinct captain jobs, and "At least one was reportedly a KCRCC volunteer." The deadline to file for the primary is today, Friday, at 5 p.m.
The Press reports in an updated story today that as of Thursday, the number of candidates was up to 35, with local Democrats hurrying to get more real Dems on the ballot by today's filing deadline. That said, it's not clear how many of those filings were from actual Democrats and how many were from KCRCC cuckoo birds.
Evan Koch, the chair of the Kootenai Democrats, told the Press Thursday, "We’re pretty darn close to filling the county now. [...] The threat of a takeover has galvanized us."
On the phone call , Bell said that as of Tuesday, he had commitments from 25 Republicans to help with the scheme, and that the KCRCC planned to get at least 40 of its people on the ballot before today's deadline.
“We’re going to do a bum rush on Thursday and Friday so that our people are on the ballot and theirs aren’t,” he said. [...]
After [the deadline], Bell said, Democrats will have to scramble to find write-in candidates, then spend time and money promoting them.
In the lead-up to the primary in May, Bell said, the KCRCC would use its voter lists to target Constitution Party members and unaffiliated conservatives to do a stealthy Get Out the Vote effort:
“We’re going to call these voters and say, ‘Hey, if you want to vote in the primary and take out the liberals, request a Democrat ballot and vote for our people for precinct committee,” Bell said.
Bell also told Grimm that the plan had the backing of county GOP chair Brent Regan, who also chairs the far-Right Idaho Freedom Foundation, that merry band of dark-money-funded wingnuts that's risen to prominence in its fight to promote the coronavirus and make sure everyone in the state has a gun and Bible. They also don't like diversity, because something something black cows and red cows.
So yeah, Bell said that Brent Regan is "totally on board” with the plan to take over Democratic precinct posts. In its updated story today, the Press says Regan had sent an email denying that the KCRCC had been recruiting its own candidates to run in the Democratic primary:
“Whatever efforts or statements Mr. Bell made, he did so as a private individual and not in any official capacity as a member of the KCRCC,” Regan said.
So that's a denial of any official involvement, all right.
Meet The New Boss, Definitely Not The Old Boss
In the recording, Bell explained what the Kootenai GOP might do if it managed to pull off the takeover of the county Democratic Party, at least once the members were done high-fiving each other. Once in control, he said, they'd elect David J. Reilly as party chair. He's the sweaty antisemite whom the KCRCC officially endorsed in his unsuccessful run for the Post Falls school board in 2020. Reilly has promoted the racist "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, and as recently as 2019 insisted that it was actually Jews who secretly pushed white supremacy to cover supposed Jewish responsibility for "the mess the West finds itself in today."
Reilly has also claimed that Jews "pretend to be white when it's expediant [sic] for them" and has fondly wished that more Americans would believe antisemitic stereotypes. Bell seemed almost giddy at the prospect of installing him as head of the local Democratic Party:
“A guy that they call racist, antisemitic, Holocaust denier,” Bell said. “That same guy would be the chair of the Kootenai Democrat Party.”
Bell claimed on the phone call that Regan had come up with that brilliant idea. Again, in today's update, Regan denied that:
“No, it is not true,” he said Thursday. “I really don’t care who the Democrats elect as chairman.”
Perhaps inconveniently, Reilly posted on Twitter Thursday that he had "registered as a Democrat and filed to become a Precinct Captain" so that he could fix the party, you see.
Today, I registered as a Democrat and filed to become a Precinct Captain.
The Democrat Party has veered towards Left Wing Extremism, working with groups like BLM & Antifa, while promoting Abortion, Transgender ideology, & anti-2A policies.
Idaho needs a Pro-Life Democrat party.
Spoken like a true loyal member of the Democrat Party, which we all say. Or will, once we're assimilated by Reilly and his ilk.
Regan's denials aside, Bell said on the recorded call that with Reilly as chair, there'd be ample opportunities for further mischief:
In addition to using the local Democratic Party’s website and social media channels to promote conservative causes, Bell said Reilly would use his position to take money donated to Democrats and give it to Republicans.
“He’s going to revamp their website,” Bell said. “He’s going to take donations and spend that on conservative causes.”
The Press scrupulously adds that Idaho law defines "theft by false promise" as a crime involving one person taking the property of another by "representing that he or a third person will engage in particular conduct with no intention to actually engage in that conduct." Not that it's saying anyone in particular is trying to do said crime.
'There Is Another'
Also too, the Press says Grimm isn't the only Kootenai County Republican to come forward to say they'd been contacted about the alleged scheme. A woman who wished to remain anonymous told the paper that another party luminary, Greg McKenzie, had asked her at a recent KCRCC meeting if she might be willing to register as a Democrat, to help take over the local den of Dems.
“He said it’s a thing where you register and then you can get into their organization and sway votes,” she told The Press on Wednesday.
She said she wasn't interested, and that McKenzie asked if she'd at least be willing to help recruit others for what she called the "scheme." She again said no thanks. McKenzie told the paper he didn't remember the conversation.
Fortunately, McKenzie and Regan told the Press they know who the real villains are: the newspaper, obviously, which they accused of working with Democrats to ratfuck the Republican primary, don't you see?
In Idaho, Republicans have had a closed primary since 2011, and are constantly claiming that there's a widespread plot by Democrats to infiltrate the GOP primaries to elect "liberals," by which they mean non-batshit conservatives like the establishment pro-business GOP people whose hair isn't on fire.
Yr Wonkette will keep you up to date on this heinous fuckery most foul. If you happen to be a Democrat in Kootenai County, you have until 5 p.m. "Pacific Time" to file as a precinct captain candidate. NO FAKES.
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