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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Far-right Idaho lieutenant governor McGeachin announces bid to unseat Little as governor

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin announces her bid for governor May 19 at Candlelight Christian Fellowship in Coeur d’Alene.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By NIna Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin kicked off her campaign for governor Wednesday evening in front of a packed house at Candlelight Christian Fellowship, promising to preserve individual rights and state sovereignty if she is elected to the highest state office.

McGeachin also announced her intention to take on incumbent Gov. Brad Little, a fellow Republican, in campaign events in Idaho Falls and Boise earlier in the day. In Coeur d’Alene, she was introduced by Kootenai County Sheriff Bob Norris, Kootenai County Commissioner Leslie Duncan and Nevada businessman Don Ahern, who said he is the chair of a new Donald Trump effort called “The American Alliance.”

McGeachin didn’t mention Little by name during her speech, but she made repeated references to his policies that she disagreed with, including his decision to issue a stay-home order in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we have seen over the last year is unacceptable,” she said. “How many businesses have we lost? Why are our voting rights compromised? Why could we go to the liquor store but couldn’t go to church? What is happening to our state? Alarmingly, Idaho has been drifting away from our foundational principles. I refuse to stand by and allow these abuses to go unchallenged.”

McGeachin, who repeatedly described herself as a traditional conservative, served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2002 to 2012. She said she was inspired to run for public office again in 2016 when Trump ran for president. “What he said resonated with me,” she said.

She touted her votes against Common Core and the Affordable Care Act. McGeachin said that Idaho officials should reject federal funding for a wide variety of programs to preserve state sovereignty, a position that aligns her with the far right of the Idaho Republican party.

The state receives billions of dollars annually from the federal government for everything from health care to education to roads. “We must do our part to get our fiscal house in order, even if it means weaning ourselves of the federal teat,” she said, without going into details.

McGeachin last month formed the “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education,” something hardline conservative Republicans focused on during the recently concluded legislative session. They claim students are being forced through critical race theory to adopt beliefs that make them hate their country.

She said she would not accept the “Marxist, socialist ideology being proposed by the Biden administration. Our children should not be taught to hate America.”

McGeachin also indicated her strong support for the Second Amendment, a sentiment that drew loud cheers from the assembled crowd.

She said she is a strong woman of action and promised to protect the state and its residents if she is elected as the first woman governor. “I have a vision for a better and more prosperous Idaho,” she said. “My door will be unlocked and open to the public, and you certainly will not be required to wear a mask when you enter. Simply put, the status quo has to go.”

McGeachin is entering a crowded field for the November 2022 election. Several other candidates, all but one a Republican, have indicated that they plan to challenge Little for his position.

Little has not officially announced a bid for re-election, the Idaho Statesman reported, but told the paper in a statement that he plans to “continue to govern according to the principles of fiscal conservatism.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.