Home Part of States Newsroom
News
Mary Souza challenges Dorothy Moon for leadership of Idaho GOP

Share

Mary Souza challenges Dorothy Moon for leadership of Idaho GOP

Jun 14, 2024 | 7:50 pm ET
By Clark Corbin
Share
Mary Souza challenges Dorothy Moon for leadership of Idaho GOP
Description
Former Idaho Sen. Mary Souza is running for Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman against current chairwoman Dorothy Moon. (Photos by Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

COEUR D’ALENE — Two former Idaho state legislators who describe themselves as conservative Republican supporters of President Donald Trump are vying for control of the Idaho Republican Party during the GOP state convention.

Former Idaho Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, announced last week she is running for chair of the Idaho Republican Party to challenge Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy. Moon is a former member of the Idaho House of Representatives who was elected chair of the Idaho Republican Party during the party’s 2022 state convention in Twin Falls.

Both Souza and Moon ran unsuccessfully for Idaho secretary of state in the 2022 Republican primary election, which current Secretary of State Phil McGrane won. In that race, Moon finished second and Souza finished third. 

Delegates from counties across Idaho are expected to vote on the Idaho Republican Party leadership race Saturday at North Idaho College. During the first two days of the convention, reporters were barred from attending all committee meetings, business meetings and general sessions at the convention, breaking with precedent. 

Mary Souza says she is running to restore respect and unity to Idaho GOP

Souza is a former critical care registered nurse and nursing instructor. She described herself as a happily retired person who served eight years in the Idaho Senate and was ready to put politics behind her after running unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2022. 

Souza said she decided to run for chair of the Idaho Republican Party because she has concerns with the director of the Republican Party and feels the party is being divided. 

“When the party obfuscates and covers things up and isn’t transparent – and this leadership is not transparent – this kind of lack of transparency, lack of honesty, all of those things need to change,” Souza said in an interview in the hallway at Coeur d’Alene Resort Thursday. 

“I’m running because there is a lack of respect for people in the party from leadership, and also (a lack of respect for) the voters,” Souza said in an interview in the hallway at Coeur d’Alene Resort Thursday.

“It’s mostly the voters that I am concerned with because they are having their votes reduced in power. They’re having their votes basically taken away from them by the Central Committee and the rules that were made by the state party,”Souza said.

Souza said an example of her concerns are endorsements made in primary elections by the party or its central committees. Souza told the Idaho Capital Sun that the party and its central committees should not be endorsing candidates in primary elections.

“Pre-primary endorsements – that takes away my vote as a voter and your vote … because they are already making the decision for you because they don’t think you are able to make the decision yourself,” Souza said. “Well that’s not the way the Republican Party treats its voters.”

Souza said she also opposes a GOP rule that allows the central committee to donate to some candidates in a primary election, but doesn’t require them to donate to all Republican candidates in a primary. 

“That’s not the way we do things,” Souza said. “We don’t pick and choose our favorites and then give them money that came to us through Republican activities like the Lincoln Days and whatever that a lot of people attended. So we give the voters the choice, and we respect the voters.”

“That’s why we don’t have unity is because so many people have been disrespected and pushed away by the party, so now we have got all these factions and are you with this faction or that faction or this faction?” Souza added. “A solid political party — when you split it into factions — that opens the door for any outside group that wants to come in and have their way with the situation and I think we are vulnerable. It’s a dangerous precedent to set.”

Dorothy Moon says she is a rule-follower and tireless worker for the party

Moon, R-Stanley, is a retired secondary education teacher and public school special education director who served three terms in the Idaho House before running unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2022. 

Need to get in touch?

Have a news tip?

Moon defeated former Idaho GOP chairman Tom Luna to become chairwoman of the Idaho Republican Party.

“My vision has always been clear – just follow the rules, honor the platform,” Moon told the Sun in an interview Thursday outside of the Coeur d’Alene Resort. “That’s what I’ve always espoused.”

Moon told the Sun her vision and work ethic are two reasons Republicans should vote for her to continue to lead the party for another two years. 

“People have told me they have never seen anybody work harder in this position, and I believe that,” Moon said. “I work probably 120 hours a week. I mean, I know last week I averaged about three hours of sleep a night getting things prepped for this, getting the committees established and getting people assigned.”

“There is a lot of work to it and people don’t realize it, so when people want to throw in their hat and run for positions, they better know what it involves,” Moon said. “Because it is not only that, but you are accountable to the donors and the money that they put in. And if they put it in to fight ranked choice voting, it is going to be used to fight ranked choice voting. If it’s put in for Hispanic outreach, it is going to be used for Hispanic outreach. And we’ve done that with a big donor last year.”

“I have been very true to my word,” Moon added. “I said that coming into the party, we are going to listen to the grassroots. That’s all I really wanted, and to follow the rules.”

“And I’m proud of the fact that I think people know I make no bones about it,” Moon continued. “Now maybe that is back to my teacher background. I mean seriously. Being a teacher, you’ve got 30 kids in there, you’re going to follow the rules.” 

Idaho GOP convention continued to block reporters’ access on the second day of convention.

The vote on party chairperson is expected to be the final order of business during the Idaho Republican Convention, which is playing out secretly behind closed doors at Coeur d’Alene Resort and North Idaho College. Reporters have been barred from attending all committee meetings Thursday and Friday and from attending Friday’s general session of the convention. This is a departure from recent Idaho Republican State Conventions, where reporters were allowed to attend and cover the general session. 

Attendees check in at the Idaho Republican Convention
Attendees check in at the Idaho Republican Convention at the Coeur d’Alene Resort on June 13, 2024. (Mia Maldonado/Idaho Capital Sun)

On Friday, the Coalition for Women in Journalism posted on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, calling the Idaho Republican Party’s decision to block journalists from attending the convention’s business meetings “a clear infringement on press freedom.”

“We call for immediate reinstatement of press access to ensure transparency in the upcoming convention proceedings,” the nonprofit organization posted. 

The Idaho Republican Party appeared to double down on its efforts to block press access Friday. On Friday morning, an armed private security guard was stationed near the designated media area in a corner of the hallway at Coeur d’Alene Resort. When reporters attempted to walk past an Idaho GOP sign located about 10 feet from the media area, the guard told reporters they were not allowed to leave the media area and needed to return to the media area. 

The guard’s presence appeared to be new on Friday. Reporters with the Idaho Capital Sun did not notice any armed security guards enforcing restrictions to media access Thursday during the first day of the convention. 

The convention is scheduled to conclude Saturday. 

The Idaho Democratic Convention runs June 22 and June 23 in Moscow.