Reclaim Idaho Eagle town hall

FILE — Former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Jim Jones speaks during a Reclaim Idaho town hall meeting in Eagle, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.

Idaho Republicans will consider a resolution demanding that the state’s former attorney general and Supreme Court chief justice, Jim Jones, be removed from their party’s hall of fame.

The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee drafted the resolution largely in response to perceived liberal stances Jones has taken in recent newspaper columns.

The resolution also requests that Jones “voluntarily and formally disaffiliate as a Republican.”

Members of the Idaho Republican State Central Committee will consider the Bonneville County resolution during their annual winter meeting on Jan. 8 in Boise.

The resolution quotes from several of Jones’ columns published in Idaho newspapers throughout 2021. According to quotations in the resolution, Jones stated he’s more aligned with Democrats than Republicans and that he identifies as an Independent. The resolution also faults Jones for helping to create an organization described as being committed to thwarting Republican legislators, as well as for espousing his belief that Idaho should bring back an open primary system.

The resolution quotes a statement attributed to Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna regarding the state’s closed primary: “Frankly if you truly cared about the battle for ‘the soul of the Republican Party,’ you wouldn’t advocate for non-Republicans to infiltrate our party and skew the results.”

Jones, who was raised in Jerome County, said the Kootenai County Central Committee attempted to get a similar resolution singling him out as a “Republican in name only” approved last summer.

“My response is that I have more claim to the Republican Party than they do,” Jones said. “I ran as attorney general and won in 1982 and also unopposed in 1986. I worked for Sen. Len Jordan at a time when Republicans supported voting rights for all; they set up the Environmental Protection Agency; they disavowed white supremacy. That was the Republican party I was a part of.”

Jones acknowledges that he’s identified himself as an Independent since the George W. Bush Administration took the country into an “unnecessary, expensive and devastating war in Iraq, diverting resources from the true threats to the country.”

Jones said he remains a registered Republican because it’s his right to do so and because it affords him the best opportunity to help set the state’s direction.

“I can register with any party I want to because the United States Constitution has a First Amendment that says you have individually the right to association as you see fit,” Jones said. “They can’t deny me the right to free speech or association with any group I wish to associate with.”

Jones added that in Idaho, the Republican Party is where “the decision is made as to who is going to win the general election in most of the counties and legislative districts in the state.” Through his association as a Republican, Jones said he can also “weigh in on who will lead the top of the ticket in statewide races.”

Bonneville County Central Committee member Doyle Beck issued a brief statement via email in response to a request for comment on the resolution: “Jim Jones is loved and widely published by the liberal press. They just love him as they agree with everything he says. When in reality he is one of the admitted RINO’s that wholeheartedly promote the unethical practice of crossing over and voting Republican.”

Dan Cravens, chairman of the Bingham County Republican Central Committee, said the resolution is largely symbolic, akin to censure. Cravens personally disagrees with many of Jones’ positions, but he also disagrees that a resolution is necessary.

“There are better things for the Republican Party to be focused on now rather than going after a single member of the party for statements they have made in the past,” Cravens said. “It would probably be a better policy to have more charity toward our fellow members who have disagreed with the party than to attack those folks. This is a time for unifying against the left.”

Jones is a member of an organization called Take Back Idaho, which has a stated goal of “restoring reason and responsibility to the Idaho Legislature.”

Jones said responses by Idaho Republicans to his columns have been largely positive, and he’s optimistic the party will move past the “disruption and name calling.”

Jones believes the party is wasting time on “straw man” issues of little relevance to the state, such as critical race theory. Jones said he’s seen no evidence that critical race theory — a controversial intellectual and social movement examining the intersection of race and law in the U.S. — has been taught in Idaho schools.

“(Voters) want to get back to regular governance where we look at the needs of the elderly for tax relief on property, where we look at what we can do to improve education instead of tearing it down, where you try to deal with problems and propose real solutions … rather than fight problems that don’t exist,” Jones said.

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