I have been wondering whether taking ever more extreme stands on major issues was a winning strategy for Republicans. There is no doubt that it fires up the most passionate and Trump-supporting faction in the party and also seeks a petty goal of ‘triggering the libs’, as the kids say. But against that is the possibility that it alienates everyone else, including other Republicans. While such a strategy would likely be a plus in the primaries where more loyal party members tend to vote, it would succeed in a general election only if the electorate is so solidly Republican that there are enough people for whom just the identifier (R) after a candidate’s name is sufficient to make their voting decision.
We are likely to see that happening in Idaho race for the governorship in 2022. This is a deep red state that Trump won by 30 points. Both the current governor Brad Little and lieutenant governor Janice McGeachin are solidly right wing but the lieutenant governor is planning to challenge the governor and seems to have decided to make it dramatically clear that she is not going to let anyone outflank her on the right. She even went to the extent of repealing the governor’s mild order on vaccine mandates during the few days when he was out of the state for a meeting and she was nominally in charge. Normally, the stand-in just takes care of routine business. But not her.
Little’s second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, announced Tuesday on social media that with Little out of the state for a meeting with Republican governors in Texas, she had the authority to prohibit all state facilities—including public schools—from requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination or mandatory testing.
McGeachin, who has previously issued executive orders while Little was out-of-state, said on Twitter that she was “fixing” an order the governor issued earlier this year, which only covered non-educational facilities and didn’t include a ban on testing requirements.
Little said that he would rescinder her order on his return.
“I have not authorized the Lt. Governor to act on my behalf,” said Little in a statement shared on social media just four minutes after McGeachin’s announcement. “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”
Little is expected to return to Idaho Wednesday evening.
So nothing tangible was achieved by her action. But it achieved her purpose of making a splash and making it clear that she is an anti-covid extremist, which was likely the whole point. She was also possibly hoping to catch the attention of Trump and get an endorsement. He has been continuing his warfare against Republicans whom he thinks are not ardent enough in supporting his claim that the election was stolen from him, such as Republican governor Brian Kemp.
Trump used much of his more than hour-long Georgia rally to rail against Kemp, who attracted Trump’s ire when he certified the state’s election results in favor of Biden last year.
The Washington Post reported in January that Trump asked Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger (R) to “find” more than 11,000 ballots needed to overcome the gap between Trump and Biden in the Peach State.
Trump during his rally Saturday railed against both Raffensperger and Kemp, who he said “has been a complete disaster on election integrity.”
Trump seems to be going all in on requiring Republicans to march 100% in lockstep with him, to the extent of praising Democrats who run against Republicans he thinks are not supportive enough.
Trump has continually lashed out against Republicans who won’t peddle unfounded conspiracy theories, and has endorsed primary challengers to run against them. Most recently, he’s said that Democrats should win over certain Republicans he’s at odds with. During an interview with The Real America’s Voice last week, Trump said he’d almost prefer that Democrats win over the House Republicans who voted to impeach him after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“There are a few of those candidates in very, I would say, blue areas. I almost would rather have the Democrat win, to be honest with you.”
Idaho’s McGeachin seems to have read the signs as to what Trump wants. Let’s see if Little decides to make this into a race to see who is the most loyal Trump lackey.