Updated: May 20
Many Americans have all but given up on Idaho. At this point, the state seems more likely to secede than Mississippi or Alabama do. Migration to Idaho from normal states hasn't helped at all; if anything, it's made the state even more racist and more extremist. When Californians migrate to Texas, they bring mainstream values with them in a search for better economic opportunities. When New Yorkers or Michiganders migrate to Florida or North Carolina, it's the same thing. But when people migrate to Idaho, they're looking for something different-- white people and fascism. In the last decade, Idaho has gotten worse and worse, especially the Panhandle, which would be unrecognizable to most normal Americans but might feel like home to members of the SS who managed to time travel to any of the 4 northernmost counties in the state, Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai or Benewah, centers of full-blown American fascism and extreme white nationalism.
In our election wrap-up yesterday, we saw that Idaho's fascist Lt Governor, Janice McGeachin, challenged the hard core conservative governor, Brad Little, with Trump's backing. McGeachin, an outspoken, public supporter of domestic terrorism, lost by a very wide margin, 145,483 (53.3%) to 86,015 (31.5%). But she won in the 4 fascist counties in the panhandle, an area that sees itself as an Aryan Republic. They are the only counties she won.
Kootenai- 55% McGeachin (47% fully vaccinated)-- 70.2% Trump
Bonner- 49% McGeachin (44% fully vaccinated)-- 67.2% Trump
Boundary- 55% McGeachin (36% fully vaccinated)-- 78.1% Trump
Benewah- 55% McGeachin (53% fully vaccinated)-- 77.9% Trump
Little burying McGeachin may have been the headline, but don't be fooled. Idaho isn't headed in a mainstream conservative direction at all. The fascist wing of the GOP destroyed the mainstream conservatives-- who are already extremely far right-- in the state legislature. Reid Wilson reported last night that "a conservative wave fueled by anger at the outcome of the 2020 elections and Little’s own [initially successful] effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic crashed over what is already one of the most ruby-red states in America. Twenty incumbent state legislators either lost their seats or lost races to move from the House to the Senate on Tuesday."
Of those attacked by the fascists, five mainstays of the GOP Senate majority were defeated: Carl Crabtree, chair of the Education Committee (Clearwater, Idaho, Shoshone, Bonner counties); Jeff Agenbroad, chair of the powerful Finance Committee (Canyon County); Jim Patrick, chair of the Commerce Committee (Jerome and Twin Falls counties); Fred Martin, chair of the Health and Welfare Committee (Ada County); and Peter Riggs (Kootenai County), Martin’s vice chair and the son of former Lt. Gov. Jack Riggs. These are big names in Idaho Republican politics... and not one of them could be described as a "moderate."
In recent years, Idaho’s state House has been the bastion of archconservatives who have passed new restrictions on abortion, transgender rights and critical race theory. Some, but not all, of those policies have met procedural deaths in the state Senate, which has been run by what passes in Idaho for more mainstream Republicanism.
“The House is the branch that has really generated the outrageous bills,” said David Adler, a longtime Idaho political analyst. “Not to say that the Senate is particularly moderate. It’s just less far right.”
...[Fascists] declared victory. Early Wednesday morning, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a powerful force in [fascist] politics in the Gem State, tweeted, “[Fascists] are having a solid night, especially in the Idaho Senate.”
[Fascists] who had been frustrated by roadblocks took their revenge. And while Little won the right to run for a second term, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (R)-- a five-term incumbent and the longest-serving statewide elected official in Idaho-- did not.
“People are frustrated with what happened over the last two years, and they’re frustrated with the fact that our attorney general gave bad advice to the governor and told him that he could keep extending these emergency orders,” said former Rep. Raul Labrador (R), who defeated Wasden by a wide margin. “They took it out on the legislators who were maybe sitting on the sidelines.”
Labrador, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus who once challenged Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the position of House majority whip, was among the Idaho Republicans who questioned the validity of the 2020 elections. He said he would have joined a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) that sought to overturn election results in six battleground states. Wasden was among the few Republican attorneys general who did not join Paxton’s suit.
“I think it was a huge factor” in Wasden’s loss, Labrador said of the Texas suit in an interview Wednesday. “He didn’t join it because he had given legal advice to our governor that he could change election rules throughout the pandemic.”
The results will not shake the GOP’s control of Idaho state government; the state has not elected a Democratic governor since Cecil Andrus won reelection in 1990, and Republicans control 28 of 35 seats in the state Senate and 58 of 70 in the state House.
But the realignment is likely to put a once traditionally conservative state on the new vanguard of the far right.
“You’re going to have a Senate that is going to stand up to the governor. You have a House that is going to continue to stand up to the governor,” Labrador said. “There’s supposed to be a check and balance on each other, and the reality is that the legislature was not being a strong check on the executive.”