A libertarian group operating within the Idaho Republican Party is making its first endorsements in a slate led by Sen. Russ Fulcher in his challenge to two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter.

The Republican Liberty Caucus of Idaho also backs challengers to three other statewide incumbents: Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik over Lt. Gov. Brad Little; Boise lawyer C.T. "Chris" Troupis over Attorney General Lawrence Wasden; and Boise businessman Todd Hatfield over Controller Brandon Woolf.

In races for open statewide seats, the group endorses Rep. Lawerence Denney for secretary of state over Evan Frasure, Phil McGrane and Mitch Toryanski; and for John Eynon for superintendent of public instruction over Andy Grover, Randy Jensen and Sherri Ybarra.

The group was chartered as an arm of a national group, the Republican Liberty Caucus, founded in 1991 at the urging of Roger MacBride, a 1976 Libertarian Party presidential candidate.

To gain the endorsements, candidates were required to sign "The Liberty Compact," which reads:

"I pledge to the citizens of this state, and to the American people, that as their elected representative I will work to restore liberty, not restrict it; shrink government, not expand it; reduce taxes, not raise them; abolish programs, not create them; promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives; and observe the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not ignore them."

Founded in 2012 at the Idaho Republican Party convention, the Liberty Caucus also made what it calls a first round 31 of endorsements for the Legislature.

Among the notable legislative endorsements: Scott Smith's bid to unseat Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg; Danielle Ahrens over nine-term Sen. Shawn Keough in Sandpoint; Toby Schindelbeck over Rep. Luke Malek in Coeur d'Alene; Lee Rice over Sen. Todd Lakey in Nampa; Robert Muse over Rep. Rick Youngblood in Nampa; Diego Rodriguez over Sen. Fred Martin in Boise; Charles Pratt Porter over Lori DenHertog and Rich Jarvis for Fulcher's open Senate seat in southwest Ada County; Lance Earl over Rep. Kelley Packer in Bannock and Power counties; and Ron Nate over Rep. Doug Hancey in Madison County.

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