Chuck Malloy

Chuck Malloy

Pity the poor soul whose job is to write press releases for Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who (as some see it) has drawn attention to herself for the wrong reasons.

If you are just tuning in, she issued an executive order prohibiting governmental mask mandates in Idaho while Gov. Brad Little was out of the state, attending a Republican governor’s conference. What’s worse, she took the action without bothering to tell Little of her actions before his plane lifted off.

That went over about as well as stealing sheep and cattle from Little’s family ranch in Emmett. The governor reversed McGeachin’s executive order upon his return to Idaho, offering plenty of harsh words in the process. Then she was scorned by the media and chastised by the political establishment for her actions.

The bottom line is McGeachin got exactly what she wanted — plenty of attention and lots of steam coming from the governor’s office. If this were a hockey game, she scored a hat trick (three goals). If this were basketball, she’d had a triple-double. If this were baseball, she would be a bloop single away from hitting for the cycle.

This was a perfect way to start her campaign to unseat Little in next year’s primary election.

The governor, left-leaning editorial writers and the political establishment had a field day kicking around McGeachin. Little called her actions “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt. This kind of over-the-top executive action amounts to tyranny — something we all oppose.”

The governor had cause for being upset. That’s not how business is done in Idaho … but this state has not had a lieutenant governor anything like McGeachin, who has turned a once-quiet office into a political sideshow.

All of that is to the delight of her supporters, who view the governor in the same light as Darth Vader. Neither McGeachin nor her backers liked it when Little effectively declared some businesses as “non-essential” during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. And they don’t trust anything the governor says or does today.

As for the editorial writers and the political establishment, the heck with them. They won’t endorse or vote for McGeachin anyway. While they were stewing over her executive order, McGeachin was with Tucker Carlson on Fox News talking about critical race theory, the branding iron of her campaign for governor.

Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls, a vice chair of the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee and former congressional candidate, takes issue with Little — particularly his claim that McGeachin’s executive order ran contrary to the conservative principle that a government that is closest to the people governs best.

“No decision maker is closer to the people than the people themselves,” Smith wrote in a widely circulated op-ed. “And when it comes to personal health decisions like wearing a mask, I ask why government needs to be involved at all. The fact is that Little offers a false premise that local government can govern personal health choices better than individuals making decisions for themselves.”

McGeachin’s odds of winning the governorship are long at best, especially with a couple other like-minded “conservatives” in the race. She absolutely won’t win by being “nice.” Her restaurant in Idaho Falls serves chicken wings hot and spicy and she will add even more fiery Buffalo sauce to this campaign.

Her political inspiration, and perhaps role model, is Donald Trump. I suspect that if the former president were running for governor of Idaho, he’d do as McGeachin did — wait until the governor leaves the state and issue some hair-raising executive order just to shake up things. And, with Trump-like flair, she could offer this stern warning to the governor: Don’t you dare step foot out of the Gem State to attend a political event.

Lining up with Trump, as disgusting as it might be to his detractors, may well work in McGeachin’s favor in a Republican primary election. There are a good number of Republicans who still feel that the election was stolen from Trump.

Being a Trumpian martyr — which McGeachin has become in all the political uproar — also isn’t the worst thing that can happen to her campaign.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.