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Newly elected Idaho Republican Party chairman Tom Luna gives his victory speech after winning the election during the final day of the party’s convention on Saturday at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa.

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Former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna is the Idaho GOP’s new chairman, after delegates backed him in a 274-262 vote Saturday against Mark Fuller, chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee, writes Idaho Press reporter Blake Jones. Luna replaces Raúl Labrador, who chose not to seek re-election; he had taken the state Republican helm in 2019 and beat out Luna by two votes.

The new chairman championed his work as the party’s financial chair in his campaign speech, and took aim at Boise Mayor Lauren McClean for promoting “a socialist agenda.”

“We must fight this agenda. We must expose this agenda and use it as a rally cry,” he said.

The vote comes after months of reported disagreements between Gov. Brad Little and the right-wing, more libertarian bloc of Idaho Republicans led by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, both of whom also spoke at the party confab on Saturday. 

“Recently, I have been falsely accused of attending rallies I was nowhere near, using this public health crisis for political grandstanding and opening my family restaurant in clear violation of the governor’s (order),” McGeachin said at the convention Saturday, calling the reports “media slander.”

Little followed McGeachin’s speech by touting his plan to leverage CARES Act dollars to pay first responders in place of using property taxes and emphasizing party solidarity as the 2020 presidential election approaches.

You can read Jones' full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today's Sunday/Monday edition of the Idaho Press. Our full coverage from the state GOP convention, which ran Thursday through Saturday in Nampa, includes the following stories: GOP delegates condemn Little's COVID order, by Post Register reporter Nathan Brown; GOP convention kicks off with platform debate, by Brown; and Idaho GOP backs immigration crackdowns, American exceptionalism in 2020 platform, by Jones.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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