Elephant in the Room: Closed Primaries and a Super Tuesday Caucus Changes the GOP Playbook 

Idaho's Super Tuesday caucuses will solidify the Republican Party's closed primary

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The Future of the Party

One of tables set up at Taco Bell Arena will be manned by Domenic Gelsomino, the state chairman of the Idaho Federation of College Republicans. One need not look much further than Gelsomino and his colleagues to gauge the future of Idaho's GOP.

"In the days leading up to the caucus, we've been set up on the campus of Boise State, registering new Republicans," said Gelsomino, 19, a first-generation American descendant of a Sicilian-born immigrant.

Gelsomino is too young to remember Ronald Reagan, but he considers the 40th U.S. president as his political ideal.

"My father saw Reagan as the perfect American," said Gelsomino. "I've studied Reagan religiously."

That's why, he said, he supports Newt Gingrich, because "he is aligned closest with Reagan. He even got the endorsement from Nancy [Reagan] and Michael [the president's son]."

But Gelsomino said he's ready to support whoever the GOP chooses as its nominee.

"Let me put it this way, I'll support Romney if he wins the nomination. I won't be necessarily for him as much as I would be against Barack Obama," he said.

Gelsomino's organization is not to be underestimated. The Idaho Federation of College Republicans boasts chapters on the campuses of Boise State, Northwest Nazarene, Idaho State, the University of Idaho and BYU-Idaho. At Boise State, the organization counts 30 "engaged" members.

"As a chapter, we're not allowed to endorse a candidate until we have a nominee," said Gelsomino, who acknowledged that many of his colleagues had thrown their individual support behind Ron Paul.

"For some reason that I haven't quite figured out yet, I would say the majority of my contemporaries support Ron Paul," he said. "Not necessarily because they support Paul, but because they dislike the other candidates so much."

Gelsomino isn't shy about his criticism for members of his own party.

"The old-timers, those old Tuesday country-club Republicans need to get to the back of the line," said Gelsomino. "Their time has expired. We're tired of seeing moderate and liberal Republicans take over the mantle of our party. They're leading the party in a direction that is truly not the Republican way."

Gelsomino even has his own sights on running for the Idaho Legislature in 2014.

"I'll file paperwork as early as this November to run two years from now," said Gelsomino. "The Republican Party in Idaho can do a lot better. Idaho needs to step up its game. A lot of people from blue states like Oregon, Washington and California keep moving here and that's turning us from a red state into a purple state. Moderate Republicans are not a true representation of what true Republicans are."

On Super Tuesday, Gelsomino may be one of the most engaged campaigners at Ada County's Caucus. He may not be on the ballot in 2012, but he knows an opportunity when he sees one.

"This year, I'm part of a truly conservative Republican revolution," he said.

click to enlarge The Idaho Federation of College Republicans: State Chairman Domenic Gelsomino (front) along with fellow young Republicans (alphabetical) Hunter People Cummins, Aleks Currier, KayCee Gabb, Matt Mathis, Brandon Priddy, Mark Ross, Daniel Tellez, Luke Westcott and Taylor Woods. - PATRICK SWEENEY
  • Patrick Sweeney
  • The Idaho Federation of College Republicans: State Chairman Domenic Gelsomino (front) along with fellow young Republicans (alphabetical) Hunter People Cummins, Aleks Currier, KayCee Gabb, Matt Mathis, Brandon Priddy, Mark Ross, Daniel Tellez, Luke Westcott and Taylor Woods.

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