By one [flawed] data set seeking to determine which states rank as the most patriotic, Wyoming comes in 7th and Idaho 12th. Nonetheless, both are among the most likely states to try secession at some point in the not too distant future.
Did you know that Wyoming-- the state with the fewest people-- gave Trump his strongest win in 2020? He beat Biden 193,559 (69.94%) to 73,491 (26.55%). Biden won just 2 of Wyoming's 23 counties-- Teton and Albany. This is one red state-- every statewide official is a Republican and the state legislature is blood red-- just 2 Democrats in the 30-seat state Senate and just 7 Dems in the 60-seat state House. The state is utterly hopeless-- the equivalent of South Carolina in the 1850s.
On Sunday, the NY Times' Mark Leibovich, reporting from Casper, wrote up the hopeless plight of the state's best known politician, Liz Cheney, who's career is doomed. "Her campaign," he wrote, "to defeat the 'ongoing threat' and 'fundamental toxicity of a president who lost' has landed one of the most conservative House members in the most un-Cheney-like position of resistance leader and Republican outcast. Ms. Cheney has vowed to be a counterforce, no matter how lonely that pursuit might be or where it might lead, including a possible primary challenge to Mr. Trump if he runs for president in 2024, a prospect she has not ruled out."
Cheney returned last week to Washington, where she had minimal dealings with her former leadership cohorts and was less inhibited in sharing her dim view of certain Republican colleagues. On Tuesday, she slammed Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona for repeating “disgusting and despicable lies” about the actions of the Capitol Police on Jan. 6.
“We’ve got people we’ve entrusted with the perpetuation of the Republic who don’t know what the rule of law is,” she said. “We probably need to do Constitution boot camps for newly sworn-in members of Congress. Clearly.”
She said her main pursuit now involved teaching basic civics to voters who had been misinformed by Mr. Trump and other Republicans who should know better. “I’m not naïve about the education that has to go on here,” Cheney said. “This is dangerous. It’s not complicated. I think Trump has a plan.”
Cheney’s own plan has been the object of considerable speculation. Although she was re-elected in 2020 by 44 percentage points, she faces a potentially treacherous path in 2022. Several Wyoming Republicans have already announced plans to mount primary challenges against Cheney, and her race is certain to be among the most closely followed in the country next year. It will also provide a visible platform for her campaign to ensure Trump “never again gets near the Oval Office”-- an enterprise that could plausibly include a long-shot primary bid against him in 2024.
Friends say that at a certain point, events-- namely Jan. 6-- came to transcend any parochial political concerns for Cheney. “Maybe I’m being Pollyanna a little bit here, but I do think Liz is playing the long game,” said Matt Micheli, a Cheyenne lawyer and former chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party. Cheney has confirmed as much.
“This is something that determines the nature of this Republic going forward,” she said. “So I really don’t know how long that takes.”
Sam Brodey's Daily Beast report on Wyoming politics this morning-- The Race To Replace Liz Cheney Is A Trump Sideshow-- is more hard-hitting and newsy and... less blurry. She has 7 Republican primary opponents, several of who're more QAnon than anything resembling the pre-Trump era Republican Party, but "all," wrote Brodey, "are exactly the same when it comes to the most important qualification in today’s Republican Party: unswerving personal devotion to Trump."
Whoever gets Trump’s blessing will immediately become the leader of the pack of challengers in Wyoming. But it doesn’t seem his word will clear the field. At the forum, all the candidates were asked if they would withdraw if they didn’t get Trump’s endorsement. Two of them said no or were noncommittal.
That was probably music to Cheney’s ears. She is treating this like a serious race, bringing in major names from the GOP establishment to fundraise for her, like former Speaker Paul Ryan. In the first three months of 2021, she pulled in over $1.5 million. And she has been criss-crossing the state on official business and keeping a frenetic pace of interviews with local media outlets.
But Cheney will need all the momentum she can get, even if her challengers are split.
At the forum in Casper, Miller ruefully acknowledged that a Cheney win would be a bad sign for the MAGA movement.
“If we can’t remove Liz Cheney from Congress,” Miller told the crowd, “I’m not sure what state we can win.”
How about Idaho, which is nearly as red and backward as Wyoming-- and part of which has become an actual Nazi bastion of white supremacy? Trump won Idaho 63.9% to 33.1%, carrying all but 3 of the state's 44 counties. Like Wyoming, Idaho is essentially a one-party state. There are 7 Democrats in the 35-seat state Senate and 14 in the 70 seat state House. In a pre-Trump world, Republican governor Brad Little might be a contender for the most right-wing governor in America. In the Trumpist world, he's a RINO and a leftist. Little is burdened with an off-the-scale fascist, Lt. Governor, Janice McGeachin, who went rogue, a bona fide crackpot extremist (note the belt-buckle in her photo below). She's running against him next year. Her campaign theme seems to be "Everything that makes Idaho great is under assault." She says her campaign will rest on three "pillars": Individual liberty, state sovereignty, and "traditional conservative values."
McGeachin, a former five-term state representative and businesswoman from Idaho Falls, built her campaign message around objecting to virtually everything Little’s done in the past year, particularly his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and federal aid funds that flowed to the state, many of which she voted to approve as a member of Little’s Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee, though she also opposed some of the proposals.
...Her tenure as lieutenant governor has been a controversial one. She drew criticism in 2019 for posing with members of an antigovernment militia group in the Statehouse and posting the photo on Facebook; and administering a modified military oath to militia group members at a rally while serving as acting governor. Last month, she formed the “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education,” something hardline conservative Republicans focused on during the recently concluded legislative session.
“Idaho needs an education system that prepares young people to live productive lives, not one that indoctrinates Marxist sociologist ideology being proposed today by the Biden Administration,” she said Wednesday. “Our children should not be taught to hate America, nor to hate each other. I have assembled a task force and we will soon begin assessing these issues.”
Layne McInelly, president of the Idaho Education Association, which endorsed Little in 2018, responded to McGeachin’s announcement with a statement saying, “She does not and will not prioritize policies that benefit public education. In fact, there is no ambiguity in her track record-- she consistently attempts to undermine education funding and degrade our dedicated educators.”
Until this past weekend, McGeachin was one of 7 Republicans-- and the most right-wing-- in the gubernatorial primary. Saturday, serial insurrectionist Ammon Bundy (son of Cliven Bundy) announced he's running too-- on a platform centered on abolishing most state taxes and claiming federal public land for the state. He's banned from the Idaho Statehouse grounds but he's been talking about running for over a month. Now it's official. The Idaho Statesman noted that he's "a far-right, militant activist who has been arrested at least five times since last August for protests at the Idaho Capitol and for refusing to wear a mask in the Ada County Courthouse."
He says he will end property taxes and income taxes and replace them with regressive sales taxes that fall on the shoulders of working people and the middle class while easing the already too low tax burden for the wealthy.
The 45-year-old’s father, Cliven Bundy, who is known for a decades-long refusal to pay grazing fees on federal land his cattle graze on in Nevada, also spoke at the Saturday event in support of his son’s candidacy.
In an interview, he told the Statesman his son wants people to understand “the difference between freedom and communism” and that his son stands for “the Ten Commandments and the Constitution of the United States.”
During his speech, Ammon Bundy mocked the practice of stating one’s gender pronouns, saying “from here on out, I’m going to identify as a man, an American man, using he, him and his pronouns.”
He added, “Oh, the outrage, right? How dare I declare my gender? ... Who would have ever thought America would become something so ridiculous?”
Bundy’s pitch for governor also includes plans to ban abortion, repeal the state’s healthcare exchange, open up non-approved FDA drugs for consumer use and end financial assistance programs for poor Idahoans, according to his campaign website.
The candidate’s mother, Carol Bundy, also spoke at Saturday’s rally. She mentioned the drought in Nevada, which she said she saw as she drove north to Idaho.
“I left the desert that’s in one heck of a drought,” she said. “Somebody said it looks like Mars.”
Much of the western United States is currently facing extreme or exceptional drought, which scientists have linked to a warming climate.
But Ammon told The Statesman on Saturday that he isn’t concerned about climate change, despite overwhelming evidence that average temperatures are rising primarily due to human activity.
“I’m not concerned about climate change,” he said. “I mean, there’s been droughts, they come and go, you just got to do your history.”
It’s not the Bundy family’s first foray into politics. In 2018, Ammon Bundy’s brother Ryan ran for governor of Nevada as an independent. He received just 1.4% of the vote.