A Republican disaster in, of all places, the red state of Idaho.
Over the weekend, the Idaho Republican Party convention of 500 delegates exploded in acrimony in Moscow, Idaho. The meltdown was not unlike the Cantor primary defeat at the hands of Tea Party activists last week.
The fight was between the traditional Idaho right-wing conservatives and what Republican delegate Ken Burgess of Boise described as the "tin foil hat caucus" — serious Tea Party radicals.
As The Spokesman Review put it, the convention adjourned after three days "without electing a (State Party) chairman, setting a platform or doing any of its scheduled business." The Speaker of the Idaho House commented: "Is it a mess? Yes, that's my quote." Another delegate referred to the Idaho GOP as "the laughing stock [sic] of Idaho."
The chairman of the convention was none other than Tea Party darling, Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador. Rumor has it he thinks he is running for House majority leader back here in Washington and challenging Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
But if he can't control a one-party state like Idaho, imagine what would happen if he tried to actually get things done where Democrats have power.
Idaho, after all, is Republican through and through right now — all the statewide offices are held by Republicans, its two senators and two congressmen are Republicans, 80 percent of the state legislators are Republicans. The joke used to be that a Democratic caucus of state senators could be held in a Volkswagen!
Previously, Labrador led a revolt that attempted to defeat Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), refused to vote for him, and even supported candidates to beat the conservative incumbent governor of Idaho, Butch Otter.
We will see how many votes he will get in his challenge to McCarthy to replace House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Not many, I would think, especially in light of what happened in Idaho.
But the most radical elements of the Tea Party aren't going away. Even Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is getting worried.
Paul arrived in Idaho at the start of the convention to speak to Republicans and rally support for a future presidential bid. He couldn't fire up his private jet fast enough to get out of town when he saw the handwriting on the wall that a bloodbath was about to ensue and his buddy, Labrador, was right in the middle of it.
According to the Idaho Statesman, here was the exchange: "'You guys have all kinds of stuff that'll go on — and I'll be gone by the time that goes forward?' Paul asked Labrador [at the airport]. ... 'You will be gone,' Labrador assured Paul."
But what will not be gone is the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party and the refusal of many to take up immigration, to pass jobs bills or equal pay for equal work, or acknowledge basic rights for the LGBT community. Smart Republicans know that being on the wrong side of history is never good and that an extreme Republican Party that antagonizes women, young people, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians is suicidal.
What played out in Idaho last weekend, if it plays out across the country, is truly scary — for Republicans and for America.
Contact Fenn at email@example.com.