Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary



The long fall of a once promising legislator


By Brian Almon


With the 2024 Idaho GOP State Convention less than a week away, former state senator Mary Souza has announced her run for state chair as the candidate of the Gem State Conservatives. In light of this, I feel compelled to remind people of her journey over the last two years from conservative legislator to someone willing to attack any and all political figures on the right. It makes me wonder if the GSC have concluded they simply won’t have the numbers in Coeur d’Alene next week and are supporting a sacrificial lamb, because there are few political figures in Idaho who have burned as many bridges as Souza.


From the CDA Press article:


“I thought I was just going to be a new precinct committeeman and a delegate to the convention, and then the phone started ringing,” she told a crowd of about 40 people. “People from all over the state who I trust and admire and who have been in this kind of thing for a long time called and said, ‘We need you.’”


That would be the Gem State Conservatives on line 1.


Infighting and distrust among Idaho Republicans has weakened the party, Souza said. She believes new leadership is needed to change that.


“Infighting and distrust” began the moment Dorothy Moon won her chairmanship in Twin Falls in 2022. Establishment delegates walked out of the auditorium, hoping to end the convention by removing a quorum, then immediately ran to corporate media to denounce Moon and other conservative Republicans. The old guard has spent the last two years relentlessly attacking her and the party itself. When it comes to “infighting and distrust,” perhaps Mary Souza should look in the mirror.


I began this Substack newsletter during the 2022 primary campaign, and I shared my impressions of the candidates for secretary of state in an early post. I came away impressed by then state representative Dorothy Moon but there was something odd about Souza that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.


Dorothy Moon came very close to winning that primary, and since Souza received nearly ten times as many votes as the margin between Moon and Phil McGrane, it is entirely reasonable to consider her a spoiler candidate:



In the two years since that primary election, Mary Souza has been on a vendetta against everyone she blames for her loss, including but not limited to Dorothy Moon, Brent Regan, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, and the Idaho Freedom Foundation.


Regan himself, chair of the KCRCC, donated the $5,000 max to Souza for her primary, but she seemed to hold him personally responsible when the committee voted to recommend Moon instead. Regan also chairs the IFF board of directors, so despite his initial support of her campaign, she turned her guns on that organization as well.


In doing so, she has made enemies of people who were once her staunchest supporters.


Mary Souza served four terms in the Idaho State Senate from 2014-2022. She once had a very conservative voting record, with Freedom Index scores in the high 70s — similar to Reps. Julianne Young and Bruce Skaug today. Solid. However, something seems to have changed after the 2018 session. Souza peaked at 79% that year but then dropped to 67% in 2019, 56% in 2020, 53% in 2021, and ending at 48% in 2022:



If you ask Mary Souza, she might say that IFF veered toward the extreme right over the past few years. But is that really the case?


Starting in 2023, Souza wrote a series of columns for the CDA Press called “The IFF Files”, seemingly aping the recent release of the Twitter Files by a team of journalists. She attacked each employee by name, spreading innuendo about some, outright lies about others. I was working there at the time, and all she could find on me was my now infamous tweet about the 19th amendment.


Indeed, Souza has shown the zeal of a social justice warrior in the way in which she goes after anyone she believes to be racist, sexist, or anti-Semitic. More often than not she lobs those accusations at anyone more conservative than her, which lately included a large portion of Idaho Republicans.


Like many leftists, however, Souza’s antiracism often turns out to be thinly disguised racism. Earlier this year, she dismissed claims that IFF founder Wayne Hoffman was the most powerful Jewish man in Idaho by saying that he only cared about money — something that is recognized as an anti-Semitic trope by most organizations. I wonder what else she thinks about Jews or other ethnic and religious minorities.



When Dorothy Moon announced her run for Idaho GOP state chair in July 2022, Souza blasted an email to every convention delegate, myself included. She accused Moon of defending rape, lying about legislation, living outside of her district while a state representative, and of being “disrespectful” to fellow legislators.


Convention delegates were unfazed, supporting Moon with 434 votes compared to 287 for Tom Luna. I believe that many people learned more about Mary Souza from that email than they did Dorothy Moon. I certainly did.


A year ago, Souza penned an editorial for CDA Press warning about the creeping dictatorship in the upcoming Idaho GOP Summer Meeting in Challis. I responded to that editorial point by point, showing how Souza was uninformed or even outright lying about the rules and resolutions being considered by the State Central Committee. The entire article is worth reading again in light of Souza’s return to party politics.


In her zeal for revenge against her former allies on the right, Souza has made common cause with the left side of the Idaho GOP. She aligned herself with the Gem State Conservatives, which as you know was put together by former chairs Tom Luna and Trent Clark with the express goal of regaining control of the party. The GSC had no qualms about working with leftists, former Democrats, LGBTQ+ pride supporters, Biden voters, and anyone else who would help them toward their goal of ousting Dorothy Moon.


The GSC failed to take over the central committees in Idaho’s three largest counties — Ada, Canyon, and Kootenai — though they succeeded in wresting control of Bonneville County. However, the numbers simply aren’t there to control the state convention. Running Mary Souza against Dorothy Moon is the last gasp Hail Mary for the Gem State Conservatives, the final move in a highly anticipated chess game that was lost long ago.


Delegates should expect to see a barrage of nasty emails and text messages from the GSC, perhaps using anonymous accounts. There will be slanderous and libelous attacks on all the current officers, especially against Dorothy Moon. There might even be a last minute surprise or two, some scandal that, whether true or false, is designed to harm the conservative candidates.


If you’re a delegate to the convention, I recommend you adopt a stoic perspective. Don’t be swayed by emotional appeals. Learn the facts and stick to them. Dorothy Moon has been a servant leader for grassroots Republicans, speaking truth to power and working to hold our lawmakers accountable to the promises they have made to voters. Mary Souza has been on a revenge tour ever since she took a distant third in her statewide election, burning numerous bridges in what can only be described as a temper tantrum on a massive scale.


The choice for chair of the Idaho Republican Party could not be any clearer. Dorothy Moon is the voice of the people, while Mary Souza is the voice of the same special interests who controlled our party until recently. I trust the people to make a wise choice next week in Coeur d’Alene.