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Benewah GOP asks candidate to quit

by David Cole
| April 14, 2010 9:00 PM

Desmet resident James Stivers, who is running for the state Senate in legislative District 2, said he has decided to stay in the race.

That's news because the Republican candidate was asked to withdraw from the race by the Republican Party of Benewah County, which cited past writings of Stivers' that described "the virtues of polygamy and ... writings on the white race."

"They can't make me quit," said Stivers, 50. "They can put a lot of public pressure on me to withdraw, and say a bunch of nasty things about me."

Joyce Broadsword, of Sagle, the incumbent in the Senate seat, and Dennis Engelhardt, of Sagle, also are running. Both are Republicans.

Phil Sergent, chairman of the Benewah County Republican Party, said, "We can't support somebody that's running for office that has these views. We don't have the same views - not even remotely. We can't support polygamy or racism."

Sergent said the county Republican Party made the decision to take action after reading portions of two books by an author named James Wesley Stivers. One was titled "Eros Made Sacred: Or, the Biblical Case for Polygamy," he said.

That book was for sale on Tuesday night under the name James Wesley Stivers, along with another book titled "Restoring the Foundations: Essays on Relational Theology."

The Coeur d'Alene Press couldn't confirm whether those were books written by the candidate because Stivers wasn't commenting later in the day Tuesday.

"In anticipation of the need for legal counsel, I can no longer comment or grant interviews related to the subject matter," he said in an e-mail statement to The Press.

However, Stivers earlier had said all races are equal, and that he's not a racist. He said he has "acquaintances" who have "racist backgrounds," but he doesn't "allow people to verbalize racist beliefs in my home."

He said he has "never been affiliated with any group or organization that has a racial ideology, in my entire life."

He said he has never been a polygamist, though he points out that polygamy is in the Bible. He said he's a Protestant.

"You can't take everything literally from the Bible and function in modern society," Stivers said. "Polygamy is not the proper form of marriage in civil society."

Stivers currently runs a house painting business in Desmet, called Stivers Painting, he said. He's running for office because the state is in economic trouble, which is effecting his business, and others' businesses and he wants to do something about it, he said.

Plus, he would like to see a state bank established, like the one he said exists in North Dakota. He said the state bank issue angered some in his party.

In the statement Stivers issued Tuesday stating that he declined further comment on the issue, he said, "Recent evidence has surfaced which indicates that the statement issued by the Benewah County Central Committee of the Republican Party was based upon printed matter of a libelous nature, submitted in a secret meeting in which I was not present, and consequently, one in which I was denied due process."

The letter from the county's Republican Party to Stivers, signed by Sergent, read: "Due to recent information being presented to the Republican Party of Benewah County, about your book on the virtues of polygamy and your writing on the white race, the central committee has unanimously voted to disassociate the party from you and request your resignation of your committee seat, plus withdrawing your candidacy for Idaho state Senate."

Stivers' Web site said he is a precinct committeeman and currently serves as the secretary for the district central committee of the Republican Party.

Stivers went on to say in his e-mailed statement that it "is regrettable that fellow Republicans have resorted to bigotry and race baiting to eliminate an opponent in a political contest."

In doing so, he continued, those Republicans have deprived voters of debate on fresh ideas to solve Idaho's problems, such as his state banking proposal.

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