GOP challenger John Freeland to Sen. Schmidt withdraws from race amid party infighting

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Republican legislative candidate in northern Idaho says he is no longer running for a state Senate seat after facing pressure from other GOP officials to pull out of the race.

John Freeland, 22, announced Tuesday he would no longer pursue challenging three-term incumbent Sen. Dan Schmidt, a Democrat from Moscow, in the upcoming November election. He declined to comment further when contacted by The Associated Press.

“I did not reach this decision lightly and will continue to serve the people of this district as the Latah County Republican vice chairman,” said Freeland in a prepared statement.

Freeland accused three Latah County GOP officials of working to get Democratic candidates elected rather than Republicans in a Facebook post on Monday. Freeland says he was asked to withdraw from the race during the Idaho Republican convention over the weekend.

“This is one of the biggest scandals of modern times in the Idaho Republican Party,” Freeland wrote.

Latah County GOP Chairman Thomas Lawford denies demanding Freeland’s resignation during the convention. Instead he said party officials attempted to address Freeland’s Facebook activity on the last day of the three-day convention and requested that he stop posting politically-charged posts.

Lawford added that he thought Freeland stepping down was the right choice.

“We love his enthusiasm and love his age, but no one had asked him to run. He did this on his accord. And frankly, no one else would step up,” Lawford said. “It’s maybe not the best idea to have him run right now.”

GOP officials now have 15 days to find a replacement for Freeland in order for a new name to appear on the November ballot.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, Freeland is the first candidate to withdraw from the general election.