UPDATED, 3:15 p.m. with comment from Idaho Liberty Caucus Secretary Jason Robinson.
Sixteen hours after Gov. Butch Otter said a state-run insurance exchange was the best option for Idaho, opponents announced they will rally in protest at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the Capitol steps.
Notice of the half-hour rally was sent at 8 a.m. this morning by Gem State Tea Party. The sponsor is the Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho, whose vice chairman is former Idaho Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. The electronic flyer simply says the topic will be the health exchange. No details were provided about speakers. Hart and Region 4 Director Ryan Davidson did not immediately respond to my emails seeking more information.
Otter announced his decision to support the exchange at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a written statement. He said the Legislature needs to sign off on the plan and met with GOP legislative leaders shortly before the announcement.
Otter is on his annual trip to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, so he'll miss the protest.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little said he'll also miss the rally. "I don't know that I've been invited," Little said, adding that he has a prior commitment to speak to the Idaho Bankers Association in Boise.
Little said he's not surprised by the protest or its timing and expects opponents to lobby lawmakers to reject the exchange.
Little backs Otter's decision. "We don't like a lot of things the federal government is doing, but you can participate and if it looks like there isn't going to be a lick of difference between (a state-run and federal-run exchange), you can pull out," Little said.
Agreeing to work on a state exchange preserves Idaho's options, Little said. "We lost at the Supreme Court. We lost at the ballot box. We're trying to make lemonade out of lemons. If we don't try, we're going to get a tart-tasting lemon."
Jason Robinson's comments suggest that Otter advanced his announcement to get ahead of Thursday's rally. Perhaps, though I find it more plausible that Otter, who left early Wednesday on his pilgrimage to NFR, was more driven by his schedule. Otter is back Sunday. Here's Robinson:
I am the Secretary of the RLCID, Idaho's charter of the RLC.org (Republican Liberty Caucus), a recognized caucus of the Republican Party. I am organizing this rally in conjunction with several local groups that focus on fiscal and federal restraint.
Regarding the timing of the announcements, I applied for the permit last Friday with the Capital Mall services, and that application is public record. Our public announcement of the rally came Monday when I sent the results of our Board's vote to hold the rally to our members, and early Tuesday morning a parallel announcement was sent out to Tea Party Boise members and they had a member talk with one of the local AM radio stations about the rally and opposition to the creation of an Idaho health care exchange.
This was hours before Gov. Otter made his hasty announcement. All previous announcements from the Governor's office indicate that he planned to make his announcement on Friday, but we believe he was spurred into action as a result of our rally announcements.
Secondly, this is a rally, not a protest. We work from inside the Republican Party and are lobbying the Governor AND the Legislature to stick to their promises made many times over the last few years to oppose the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Many in the legislature hold the same views we do on this issue, and so we are rallying to remind them of their promises made previously and their obligation to hold Idaho's interests above their personal or national political interests.
Regarding having not sent out invitations to elected members like the LT. Governor, those invitations will be sent out shortly, after I have drafted an official press release and had time to confirm the speaker lineup. We in the RLC are not paid lobbyists or political sharks, so these events take time out of our day to setup.
All members of the public and media are invited to attend and let our actions and words speak louder than any preconceived notions they may have or the taunts and immature insults of those on the Statesman's "Voices" website that oppose us and our message of fiscal and political restraint in the service of greater liberty for all.
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