Local Republicans gather during Lincoln Day banquet

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Mike Hollinshead, chairman of the Elmore County Central Republican Committee, reacts after he was presented with a cardboard standee version of President Donald Trump during Saturday's banquet.

Idaho leads the nation in job creation and remains one of the best states to start a small business, the state's lieutenant governor reported as elected officials and local residents gathered on Saturday during the Elmore County Lincoln Day Banquet.

Hundreds of local Republicans gathered at the Mountain Home Elks Lodge that evening to discuss the political environment in Idaho and across the United States and how things have changed since the presidential election.

In a message presented at the banquet, Idaho Lieutenant Governor Brad Little wrote that selection of President Donald Trump represents exciting times for the Republican Party and the United States.

"After eight, long years of no leadership, we have had major changes in our nation and now face a brighter future," said Little, who was unable to attend the event here.

While the latest economic news shows some promising signs, Little added that not every community in Idaho is enjoying this resurgence.

"We still have a lot of work to do to ensure that such prosperity continues to spread throughout Idaho," he said. "Critical to achieving future economic success is the pursuit of excellence in education -- guided by parental control and local leadership."

This success is also due, in large part, to dedicated Republicans who elect and support officials with shared values of faith, family and liberty without a minimum amount of government involvement.

"Ultimately, Idaho must fight to be the master of its own destiny -- demanding less federal intervention and more liberty for Idahoans -- the beliefs encompassed in our founders' vision for America," Little added. "Together, we can grow our economy, create higher incomes and educate our children and grandchildren so they can thrive and remain in Idaho to raise their families."

The gathering of Republicans in the county comes as these individuals continue to work hard to raise money for the party and to recruit like minded individuals, the lieutenant governor added.

Scheduled to speak that evening was former Idaho Senator Russell M. Fulcher, who previously served as the majority caucus chairman. However, he was unable to attend due to illness. Speaking on his behalf was Ken Wellard, an Idaho native who now lives in Sandy, Utah.

Wellard, a cowboy poet, presented some lighthearted comments by sharing some of his original poems. Among them was one titled "Cleaning the Outhouse," which he selected since it relates loosely to the president's pledge to "drain the swamp" in Washington D.C. -- a reference to removing the perceived corruption in the nation's capitol.

During the evening, Elmore County Republicans raised thousands of dollars during a live auction with the proceeds going to support the party's political efforts. Among the items fetching the highest dollar amount was a limited edition shadow box containing several pieces of patriotic symbols.

That one item sold for $3,000 with county public defender Terry Ratliff making the winning bid.

Meanwhile, the local Girl Scout Unit raised an additional $445 by selling an assortment of baked goodies. Those funds will benefit Girl Scout troops across the county and help cover various programs and to allow others to join their ranks, according to unit representative Debbie Gump.