It's funny; everyone who's posting and embedding this clip from Friday night's Bill Maher show, is prefacing it with a disclaimer that they don't like Maher. Ditto. But the clip is still worth watching since he's good at slicing and dicing Señor Trumpanzee.
Idaho votes Republican-- overwhelmingly-- but it is unquestionably the state with the most overtly Nazi base in the country. The Idaho Panhandle is their homeland, their own private Alpenfestung. Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country (42%) and gave Trump an immense 63.9% to 33.09% landslide over Biden. Trump won 41 of the state's 44 counties. These are the half dozen counties with the lowest vaccination rates-- along with Trump's share of the vote in each):
Payette Co.- 26% fully vaccinated (Trump 78.5%)
Idaho Co.- 26% fully vaccinated (Trump 81.4%)
Owyhee Co.- 27% fully vaccinated (Trump 80.5%)
Boise Co.- 28% fully vaccinated (Trump 72.3%)
Boundary Co.- 29% fully vaccinated (Trump 78.1%)
Cassia Co.- 30% fully vaccinated (Trump 82.1%)
The 3 counties that rejected Trump have vaccination rates above the state average and much more inline with the rest of America. The Associated Press reported this past week that "Idaho is currently under crisis standards of care because of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients [who] have packed hospitals, limiting who can get help."
Blaine Co.- 67% fully vaccinated (Trump 30.3%)
Teton Co.- 52% fully vaccinated (Trump 44.9%)
Latah Co.- 48% fully vaccinated (Trump 46.0%)
Keith Ridler, reporting from Boise on the thwarted mini-coup attempt last week by neo-Nazi Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, noted that "While divisions within the Republican party-- especially among those who look to former President Donald Trump for guidance-- are common place everywhere, they are playing in high definition in one of the country’s most GOP-dominant states. The highly-publicized spat displayed how pitched-- and to outsiders silly-- the battle for control of the Republican Party has become in the Gem State.
[N]ow some prominent mainstream Republicans, worried the state’s hard-right drift could scuttle their efforts to grow Idaho’s economy, are asking Democrats and Independents to register as Republicans to vote in the party’s May primary.
...The mainstream Republicans who have controlled the state for decades worry that if far-right Republicans like McGeachin gain control it will be bad for business. Their fear is Idaho will be unable to attract high-paying tech jobs and that highly-skilled workers looking to flee pricey West Coast cities won’t move to the state if it’s run by extremists.
Little, who hasn’t yet indicated whether he’ll seek a second term, would be seen as a hard-line conservative in many states. The rancher and former long-time state lawmaker pushed to lower taxes and last year signed a bill that prohibits transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificate.
But he has angered some on the right by encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations. He hasn’t, however, ordered COVID-19 vaccinations or sought to ban them. His temperament and background are reassuring to business leaders of a state trying to expand its economy beyond agriculture by growing a small, but significant, tech sector in the Boise area.
Bob Kustra, the former president of Boise State University who before that was the Republican lieutenant governor of Illinois, said in an opinion piece in the Idaho Statesman, the state’s largest newspaper, the “battle for the soul of Idaho will take place first in the Republican primary in May.”
“This really is about rescuing Idaho from a group of people who have given Idaho a very very bad name nationally,” he said during a phone interview. “The only way that this state is going to rid itself of these far-right radicals is to get more people into that Republican primary.”
McGeachin took flak for this week’s power-grabbing moves, including from the more moderate Republican Speaker of the House, who called her actions grandstanding.
But McGeachin is unconcerned, following a strategy used successfully by her far-right colleagues ever since Republicans closed their Idaho primary a decade ago.
She has led efforts against masking and other pandemic mitigation measures. And she pleased supporters by creating an Education Task Force, which was charged with investigating alleged “indoctrination” in the state’s public school system, something McGeachin said was necessary to “protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism.”
She was also criticized in 2019 for a photo which showed herself with members of an anti-government group. At the time McGeachin said it was her way of supporting a man sentenced to prison for his role in a 2014 standoff near the Nevada ranch of anti-government activist Cliven Bundy.
What worries mainstream Republicans is McGeachin’s popularity with the extreme right.
Idaho’s Republican primary typically draws more hard-right voters and decides most office holders, especially in statewide races where Democrats usually only get about 40% of the vote.
Those hoping to temper the extremes within the GOP want to convince Democrats and others that they can register as a Republican and effect change in Idaho.
Jill Colvin, also reporting for the Associated Press, wrote that politically, similar, if not identical, situations, are playing out across red belts, whether on statewide levels or in afflicted rural counties in normal states. Trump feels that only he should pick the party nominees-- based solely on personal loyalty to him-- and he's coming up with a lot of losers. "One," wrote Colvin, "has been accused of assaulting another White House aide. Another allegedly threatened his ex-wife’s life, exaggerated claims of financial success and alarmed business associates with his erratic behavior. A third has asked a judge to keep past protection-from-abuse orders sealed. As [Señor T] wades into contested primaries across the country, he’s trying to exact revenge and remake the Republican Party in his image. In doing so, he has endorsed a series of candidates involved in allegations of wrongdoing, especially concerning their treatment of women. That’s contributing to anxiety among some Republicans who worry that Trump is lending his powerful political backing only to those who flatter his ego. Such candidates may be able to win GOP primaries in which the party’s Trump-supporting base dominates, only to struggle in the general election. And with control of Congress hinging on just a few seats, such missteps could be costly.
“There is no vetting process-- at least not on policy and electability,” said Dan Eberhart, a GOP donor and Trump supporter who said the concerns extend to many corners of the party. “The endorsement process comes down to how much a candidate supports the former president and is willing to have the Trump machine run their campaign and fundraising... Whether they are the most viable candidate in a given race is secondary.”
The former president has little reason to be blindsided by the allegations facing some of the candidates he’s endorsed. Some details would have turned up in basic background checks similar to those required by many employers. Others were said to have been shared with Trump personally or circulated within GOP circles well before he made his endorsements.
In her new book, I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House, Stephanie Grisham, the former White House press secretary and chief of staff to first lady Melania Trump, accuses her ex-boyfriend of growing abusive as their relationship deteriorated. The ex-boyfriend, Max Miller, was a fellow White House aide and is now running for Congress in Ohio with Trump’s enthusiastic blessing.
Miller has adamantly denied the charges and on Wednesday filed a defamation suit accusing Grisham of sullying his name.
Grisham says she told the former president and first lady before Miller announced his candidacy about the abuse but wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that they “didn’t seem to care.” Trump endorsed Miller as an act of revenge against Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him over the Jan. 6 insurrection.
...[M]ore often than not, an allegation of wrongdoing hasn’t stopped the former president from offering his endorsement.
Trump last month threw his support behind football great Herschel Walker, a longtime friend, for an open Senate seat in Georgia, a race the former president had urged Walker to enter. That endorsement came more than a month after an Associated Press review of hundreds of pages of public records tied to Walker’s business ventures and his divorce uncovered accusations that Walker repeatedly threatened to kill his ex-wife and her new boyfriend and exaggerated his business success, among other things.
Walker’s campaign has generally avoided responding to specifics, but has cited the ex-NFL star’s mental health issues, which he has discussed in detail, including in a book.
And in Pennsylvania, Trump’s chosen candidate for an open Senate seat, Sean Parnell, has faced questions from rival Jeff Bartos over restraining orders sought by his wife in 2017 and 2018 during divorce proceedings. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday that he had asked a judge “to ban his wife and her attorney from talking publicly about past protection-from-abuse orders against him.”
Parnell notes the orders are not evidence of wrongdoing. But Bartos has tried to make the issue a liability and warned it could damage Parnell in a general election, potentially costing Republicans the seat.
...[E]ven some allies of the former president worry the haphazard nature of his endorsement process leaves him open to potential embarrassment and risks checkering an endorsement record he takes pride in. Some have advised that he be more judicious and endorse in fewer races, even as he basks in the attention showered on him by candidates jockeying for his seal of approval, still seen as a golden ticket in many districts where he remains the party’s biggest star.
For candidates who seek Trump’s backing, there’s some degree of process.
Candidates can make contact with Trump’s team via an email address that was set up to sift through incoming endorsement requests. Trump interviews the candidates personally, and aides check up on their past statements and try to determine whether they share his policy priorities, which have come to include their position on election audits and how vigorously they supported the baseless effort to overturn the 2020 results.
But there is no system in place that would, for instance, turn up arrest records for drunk driving or property tax liens. And, as always with Trump, decisions are often shaped by what he sees on TV, by gossip, and by those who have his ear at the time, including some who may be working for endorsement-seeking candidates.
Still, Trump allies note he generally has a good read on the GOP base. And even though someone like Walker may come with baggage, he also has sky-high name recognition, huge fundraising potential and is more likely to get Trump’s help than someone who may look good on paper but that the former president isn’t excited about.
“He’s going to be unpredictable. He wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s kind of his M.O., his brand, his DNA politically,” said veteran Georgia GOP strategist Chip Lake.