By Brent Regan

We have the election results and all of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee (KCRCC) Recommended Candidates won their races. KCRCC Recommended Candidates Leslie Duncan, Marc Eberlein, Bob Norris, Carl Bjerke and Elaine Price won their competitive races by wide margins. This is a repeat of the 2022 primary where all of the KCRCC Recommended Candidates won in Kootenai County.

How are these results possible? The KCRCC is made up of one person from each of the 73 precincts in the county. These Precinct Committeemen (PC) members are politically savvy and were elected by the Republicans in their precincts. It makes sense that they would have a good idea of how the Republican voters in their precincts would vote. When the KCRCC examines the candidates and then votes by secret ballot on who we should recommend we are actually conducting a poll of a representative cross section of the entire county. The result is a strong indicator of who will win.

Of course this upsets the people who don’t get recommended and they accuse the KCRCC of having a flawed or corrupt process, or that the candidates we recommend are not perfect, or that the KCRCC is trying to get between the voters and the ballot box. The true objective is to identify which candidate is a fiscal and social conservative who believes in the Republican Party Platform and will work to implement it as policy. We are simply offering an opinion as to who is the best Republican candidate, of the available candidates.

Other groups offered their candidate endorsements. But their recommendations are skewed because they are associations of people with common interests. The KCRCC does not pick its own members, you do.

This election was unique in one regard. There was a well-funded statewide effort to take over the Republican Party by replacing a majority of the 974 PCs that make up the base of the party. Having a centralized group try to take over the party at the individual precinct level in a top down effort goes against the very core of the Republican Party.

The local affiliate of Gem State Conservatives is the North Idaho Republicans (NIR). Keep in mind that two of the NIR founders are the well-connected Jack Riggs and Sandy Patano. Former Senator Peter Riggs, Jack’s son, was defeated in the last primary by KCRCC recommended candidate Carl Bjerke. Riggs claims that the KCRCC has an “unholy grip” on local politics. NIRs animosity towards the KCRCC runs understandable deep.

In fact the published list of NIR members contains quite a few “former” elected officials who lost to KCRCC recommended candidates or did not receive the KCRCC recommendation and are now outspoken, and occasionally unhinged critics of the KCRCC.

Of the 73 Precinct Committeeman seats in our county, NIR backed candidates challenged 70 of them in a well-funded and well-coordinated effort to seize control of the KCRCC and stop the KCRCC’s efforts to inform the voters. Some of their PC candidates were decidedly un-Republican having been either been recently affiliated with the Democrat Party or had a history of requesting Democrat ballots indicating they were philosophically Democrats who affiliated Republican to effect Republican Primaries. Many of these were thankfully defeated.

Some of the NIR PC candidates were good Republicans who had been convinced by NIR propaganda that the KCRCC was evil and needed to be extinguished. One of their PC candidates confided with a constituent that they really didn’t want to be a PC but that Patano and Riggs twisted their arm saying that they wouldn’t have to do any PC work and could simply not run again in two years.

The propaganda campaign against the KCRCC has been incessant. NIR members Riggs, Patano, Mann, Hazel, Souza, Gookin, Wood and the CDA Press Editor have railed against the KCRCC with a laundry list of terribles. If the KCRCC was so evil, why do they want to join it so badly?

Here’s a funny story for context. The comedian Alex Stein was in town to speak at our Lincoln Day Dinner. There was a video of Stein, who is Jewish, jokingly identifying himself as a famous anti-Semitic white nationalist. Christa Hazel then posted that anti-Semitic white nationalists are affiliated with the KCRCC. She deleted the post but still claims that the KCRCC has been taken over by “white nationalist Christian monarchist ethnostatist Groypers.” WOW. What does that even mean?

The truth is that the KCRCC has passed resolutions affirming Republican principles and condemning all forms of supremacy and woke “label lynching” but those resolutions are ignored by NIR as they don’t fit their narrative.

Because nearly every seat on the KCRCC was challenged it is no longer valid to argue the KCRCC does not represent Republicans in the county. This outcome is the worst case scenario for the NIR. If only a few were elected, the NIR could continue its propaganda campaign. If NIR gained majority control they could have claimed victory. But neither happened.

Many of the NIR candidates had never attended a KCRCC meeting or had first-hand knowledge of how the KCRCC operates. They agreed to run based on a false premise proffered by NIR. Once these Republicans start participating they will discover they were fed a lie based on envy, hate and a quest for control. They will see the KCRCC is made up of good Republicans who have a servant’s heart and genuine concerns for their community. Those who came to conquer will quickly find they are among like-minded Republicans. NIR’s hate filled narrative will quickly collapse because a large number of their members will discover it is simply not true.

The best way to deal with an enemy is to make them your friend.

It’s just common sense.

Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, chairman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, and a mad scientist inventor.

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