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CNN anchor Victor Blackwell became emotional on Monday after speaking with those affected by the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, where a heavily armed 18-year-old white gunman shot 10 people dead at grocery store in a racially-motivated attack.
"Victor, it is so hard to hear the raw grief of all of these family members and employees,” said co-anchor Alisyn Camerota, “just trying to make sense of how their lives have been ruined in the space of a few minutes by a horrible, hateful person.”
“I was counting in the car, talking with my producer, I’ve done 15 of these, at least the ones I can count, and we keep having the conversation about Democrats will say guns, republicans will say mental health, and nothing will change,” Blackwell replied with tears in his eyes. “And I’ll probably do another one this year.”
“Family after family, having nowhere to go with their grief, we'll get into a political conversation later but is this the way we're supposed to live?" Blackwell continued. "Are we destined to just keep doing this city after city? Have we just resigned that this is what we are going to be? I’m going to give it back to you.”
The gunman, who was wearing a helmet and tactical gear, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference.
Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Police said most of the victims were Black.
The gunman first shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said.
Among those killed inside the store was a retired police officer who was working as an armed security guard.
The guard "engaged the suspect, fired multiple shots," but the gunman -- who was protected by body armor -- shot him, Gramaglia said.
When police arrived, the shooter put the gun to his neck, but was talked down and ultimately surrendered, he added.
Stephen Belongia, special agent in charge of the FBI's Buffalo field office, told the news conference that the shooting is being investigated as a hate crime.
"We are investigating this incident as both a hate crime and a case of racially motivated violent extremism," Belongia said.
Watch video below or at this link.
05 16 2022 15 14 42 www.youtube.com
With additional reporting via AFP
As in years past, Iowa has the second-highest number of breeders on the list, with 17. Missouri, as is often the case, has the highest number of breeders on the list, this year with 26.
The list is compiled by the Human Society using U.S. Department of Agriculture and state inspection reports.
This year’s list does not include Daniel Gingerich, formerly of Seymour, who is no longer a licensed breeder. Last year, Gingerich relinquished ownership of hundreds of dogs after being taken to court on civil charges tied to dozens of violations of the Animal Welfare Act.
Gingerich’s license was the first dog-dealer license the USDA has revoked in close to four years. He was later sentenced to 30 days in jail on misdemeanor charges of animal neglect, and was fined $60,000 in administrative penalties.
Earlier this year, Iowa was leading the nation in puppy mills sanctioned by the federal government. The national animal welfare group, Bailing Out Benji, reviewed the detailed inspection reports filed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first quarter of 2022, which indicated that 19 of Iowa’s breeders and brokers of dogs and cats had been cited for violations — more than any other state in the nation.
The Iowa breeders on the Humane Society’s 2022 list are:
Larry Albrecht of Coldwater Kennel in Greene: The kennel received an official warning from the USDA in November 2021 for an inadequate program of veterinary care and was cited for additional issues in March 2022. Coldwater Kennel, which keeps about 240 dogs on hand, sells to Petland and other retailers, according to federal reports. In September 2021, an inspector noted that a Maltese named Micky Boy had serious dental issues with several teeth being loose and moved easily when touched. “The gums under these teeth are receding and inflamed and bled during the examination,” the inspector wrote.
More issues were found when the USDA performed another inspection in March of this year. Inspectors found nursing mothers and their puppies on dangerous wire flooring, with the puppies’ feet passing through the flooring – a potentially fatal hazard for small dogs. Other dogs were found in enclosures that had caked and moldy food in them, and one dog had no available water.
Carolyn Anderson of Anderson’s Yorkies in Mason City: This AKC breeder was cited for 34 USDA violations in less than one year, and 2022 was at least the fourth year in a row this business was cited for multiple, significant violations. There were recurring issues with giardia and coccidia – parasites that live in a dog’s intestines — as well as sick dogs and unsanitary conditions.
Inspectors observed that it appeared puppies were being sold with untreated diseases. The most recent citations are tied to repeat violations for poor housing, poor record-keeping and dogs that did not have enough space in their enclosures. In a January 2022 report, the USDA inspector wrote, “The licensee states they have had numerous cases of giardia and coccidiosis in several dogs … The licensee was not able to provide any medical records or documentation for any of the animals that have been currently or previously been diagnosed with giardia or coccidia. In addition, there was no written records to indicate that any animals were currently receiving treatment for any health issues.”
The inspection report also described an accumulation of “dust, dirt, hair, urine, excreta residue, food waste and other organic debris” and noted that many of the dogs had no clean place to eat. The inspector reported watching “a tan and white dog named Finn eating food from the floor. The floor in this area is covered with a heavy layer of brown-to-black matter. The walls and surrounding surfaces of this area is also covered with the heavy layer of yellow to brown matter.”
During an October 2021 visit, inspectors found that some dogs had been given a diarrhea medication that expired five years earlier, and some of the vaccinations kept for use on puppies were expired or were stored at the wrong temperature. Many of the dogs had no records to indicate where they came from, and other dogs were housed inside wire crates in a cluttered area. During a May 2021, inspectors noted five dogs had no access to water and some dogs and puppies were being stored in cramped cages without enough space.
Brian Felton of Centerville: During a January inspection this year, USDA officials found that some of the dogs at Felton’s facility had no access to water, or had only frozen water. At least two dogs were exposed to freezing cold temperatures that dipped to 6 degrees below zero, with no way of keeping warm. “Two adult Mastiffs are housed in an outdoor enclosure which contains a wooden shelter structure,” an inspector wrote. “The shelter has no wind and rain break at the entrance.”
The inspector stated that the shelter lacked any bedding material inside and had a water bowl, but the water in it had “frozen into a solid block of ice.” On the same day, inspectors found that two enclosures, containing a total of 10 adult dogs and two puppies, had food that was “heavily contaminated with wood shavings.” The shavings were “mixed into the food” or formed a layer across the top of the food, the inspector wrote.
Menno Gingerich of Skyline Puppies in Albia: Skyline Puppies received an official warning from the USDA earlier this year after it was determined that the owner had performed a makeshift, do-it-yourself medical procedure on an injured puppy without veterinary consultation or anesthesia. The USDA inspectors had found an injured puppy and inquired about its condition. They then learned that Gingerich had stitched up the injured puppy’s wound by himself without any veterinary oversight and reportedly without anesthesia.
The inspector described the situation after speaking to one of the kennel’s workers: “One English bulldog puppy was observed walking with staggered steps and would also circle in a continuous motion. In addition, the puppy was observed carrying its head sideways. I asked the representative what happened to this puppy. They stated that shortly after this puppy was born its (mother) bit it on the back of its neck. The neck area sustained an open gash… I asked the representative what did they do for this puppy after it was initially observed. The response was that they stitched up the open wound. I then asked them if the puppy was taken to or if the attending veterinarian was contacted. They answered, no, the attending veterinarian was not called.” Gingerich later confirmed those details for inspectors, stating he had used sewing string to close the wound.
Helene Hamrick of Wolf Point Kennel in Ackworth: In June of last year, this establishment was issued an official warning from the USDA for failure to provide proper veterinary care. Hamrick was also cited for keeping dogs in dangerous conditions. The warning stemmed from a May 2021 inspection that found three dogs with signs of significant dental disease, with some of their teeth exposed at the roots or so inflamed they were bleeding.
During the same inspection, USDA also noted many issues with poor housing, including enclosures with sharp points that could injure the dogs, as well as an enclosure with a gap that could injure or entrap dogs. At least two empty enclosures were so decrepit that the flooring had collapsed, and many enclosures were rusty and falling apart. In 2017, inspectors who visited Wolf Point Kennel reported finding dog food contaminated with live maggots and beetle larvae.
Water is frozen solid in every animal enclosure except for puppies housed inside south shed … (Dogs) observed licking ice in water buckets during inspection.
– USDA inspector visiting SCW Frenchies
Bruce Hooyer of JKLM Farm / Shaggy Hill Farm in Sioux Center: Since 2018, inspectors have advised Hooyer on more than one occasion to downsize the breeding operation and retain a more manageable number of animals, but the kennel still had 135 dogs when inspectors visited in November 2021 and designated the kennel as “noncompliant.”
In August 2019, the kennel was cited for unsafe and cluttered condition, with an inspector writing, “There are too many dogs for this facility. While the dogs have enough space to lay, stand, and turn around, there is not enough room for exercise. Some primary enclosures are make-shift and quite small. The number of dogs must be reduced for this facility. During [the] last visit, it was agreed that the number of dogs for this facility should not exceed 80 … There is too much crowding in every structure.”
The inspector also found dirty conditions, stating that “the overall sanitation of the facility is poor … Waste is [sitting] in buckets and thrown outside the building.” The inspector specifically instructed Hooyer to walk, by hand, 115 adult dogs in two of the buildings twice per day, “effective immediately,” because their cages were too small and didn’t give them room for exercise. However, the inspector also noted that only two people worked at the facility, which wouldn’t be enough staff to walk so many dogs. At that time, the kennel also lacked proof of vaccinations and the inspector made note of a dog with “severely matted” eyes, and a puppy with an open sore on his side.
Jake Kruse or K&E Kennels in Salem: This breeder, who sells to Petland and other retailers, was inspected in January 2022. At that time, the issues included four “housing facilities” violations for problems such as “sharp corner edges” and “broken metal” that could injure the dogs, and open trash containers. In addition, cleaning and sanitation issues were noted, such as “metal bucket food bowls that contain a buildup of caked food and organic material.” One feeder had “a buildup of caked food and wild bird feces on the interior of the feeder.” There were close to 300 dogs on site at the time of the inspection.
Steve Kruse of Stonehenge Kennel in West Point: This kennel, a reported affiliate of Daniel Gingerich’s former Wayne County breeding operation, has been cited for repeat violations related to ailing dogs. Since 2015, more than 55 injured or sick dogs have been noted by inspectors. Stonehenge Kennel is one of Iowa’s largest breeding operations, with 645 dogs on hand at the time of a September 2021 inspection. During an inspection the previous May, USDA official found four dogs in need of veterinary care. Two of them had signs of significant dental disease, and a third had an inflamed lower leg. Inspectors said a fourth dog had “an abnormal appearance to her face” and “complete hair loss” on the bridge of the nose and additional hair loss around both eyes.
The Humane Society states that a “new area of concern” for the organization is Kruse’s affiliation with Daniel Gingerich, whose license was revoked last year. Court records from the Gingerich case show that the two dealers exchanged large numbers of dogs, with Gingerich purchasing 612 dogs from Kruse last spring and Kruse leasing one of his properties to Gingerich.
In 2021, a USDA inspector cited Kruse for six dogs that were in poor condition, including an emaciated female Boston terrier and a terrier whose coat was so badly matted that the hair on her chest was “thickened and tight” while her legs were “covered in layers of matted hair.” Between 2015 and 2017, the USDA cited Kruse for at least 41 dogs in need of veterinary care between, including some with deep lacerations or oozing wounds. In December 2015, Kruse received a 21-day USDA license suspension after throwing a bag containing two dead puppies at a USDA inspector.
Lavern Nolt of Twin Birch in Charles City: Between September 2021 and February 2022, USDA inspectors cited the establishment for several dogs that were in need of veterinary care, including a Maltese named Fifi that had an abnormal skin condition, an English bulldog named Maybelle that had an abnormal condition of the right eye, and a Maltese named Billy, that had only three remaining teeth, two of which were covered with “a thick buildup of brown colored tartar.” An inspector also reported observing three Bichon puppies’ feet falling through the holes in the flooring of their enclosure. In 2019, the USDA cited Nolt for having sagging wire flooring in enclosures that could injure the dogs, with gaps that were big enough to let the dogs’ feet fall through, as well as unsanitary conditions.
Henry Sommers of Happy Puppys in Cincinnati, Iowa: Sommers has been cited for numerous violations in recent years. Last fall, an inspector wrote, “The licensee is conducting the euthanasia of the dogs himself. The licensee stated that he is given a syringe containing a drug, which is thought to be Beuthanasia-D, from the attending veterinarian. He then injects the drug through the animal’s abdominal wall and into the stomach. He then places the dog back into its enclosure and returns later to ensure it has died. The instructions for Beuthanasia-D are to administer it as an intravenous injection which will result in rapid and painless euthanasia.” The USDA inspector then tried to determine whether the attending veterinarian had in fact approved of what the Humane Society calls “a cruel method” of euthanasia.
The inspector wrote: “A [USDA] veterinary medical officer spoke to the attending veterinarian who stated that he did not give the drug to the licensee and did not authorize euthanasia with an intra-abdominal injection.” Sommers failed at least four state inspections between January 2022 and March 2022. During the February 2022 state inspection, his operation was marked “noncompliant” for several issues, including a “strong odor of animal waste,” a drainage system under the kennels that “contains animal waste and stagnant water” and other issues.
When inspectors arrived again in March 2022, most of the same issues remained, including the “strong odor of animal waste,” filthy conditions and excessive feces. Sommers reportedly admitted to the inspectors that some of the feces could have been there “for weeks.” Similar issues were also documented by state inspectors in January 2022. That same month, the USDA cited Sommers for a direct, repeat violation for failure to provide adequate veterinary care to his dogs. “Sommers, his veterinarian and oversight agencies are involved in allowing unnecessary suffering of dogs to continue” at Happy Puppys, the Humane Society states in its report.
Ken and Rhonda Van Der Zwaag of Van Der Zwaag German Shepherds in Hull: During two visits in January and February 2022, state inspectors rated Van Der Zwaag German Shepherds as “noncompliant” due to a list of problems, one of which was related to several puppies that had apparently died with no documentation to show they had received adequate veterinary care.
During a follow-up inspection in February 2022, the facility was again rated noncompliant, and the inspector noted that a puppy who had been treated for parvo had died recently from dehydration due to complications from parvo. “This breeder performed dealer activity by importing a litter of puppies for the purpose of resale,” an inspector reported. “Dogs imported into the state of Iowa must have a certificate of veterinary inspection. These puppies did not arrive with one.”
Dennis and Donna Van Wyk of Prairie Lane Kennel in New Sharon: On two occasions in December 2021, and again in January 2022, officials were unable to inspect the facility. On two other occasions in that same period, inspectors were able to enter the premises and reported the housing was in disrepair. They rated the operation as “noncompliant.” At the December 2021 state inspection, inspectors noted wood flooring that was rotting or had holes in it, insulation that was “hanging down into [a] dog kennel” and damaged enclosures. There were more than 50 dogs and puppies on the property at that time.
Charles Vogl of SCW Frenchies in Atlantic: In November 2021, state inspectors responding to a complaint found dogs without adequate shelter in the winter cold, including a pregnant dog that was housed outdoors with no bedding and no door to the enclosure. “Currently her water is frozen solid,” the inspector wrote. “All indoor and outdoor runs are 50% to 80% covered in animal waste … Water is frozen solid in every animal enclosure except for puppies housed inside south shed … (Dogs) observed licking ice in water buckets during inspection.”
The owner was unable to explain why four puppies who were noted in the records were missing from the property, but he allegedly stated that he “thought perhaps one had died.”
At a reinspection later that month, inspectors found that some of the housing was still inadequate. During an October 2020 visit, an inspector made note of excessive trash and clutter, evidence of mice in the kennel buildings, significant structural damage, and dogs that were found “noticeably shivering” in a building that was only 43 degrees.
Anita Wikstrom of Unforgettable Schnauzers in Ames: In February 2022, Unforgettable Schnauzers was rated “noncompliant” by inspectors due to issues with clutter, trash, dirt and weeds. A month earlier, in January 2022, it was also rated “noncompliant,” with inspectors writing that the facility was “very cluttered with trash, feces, and debris inside and outside,” and “excessive build-up of feces, dust, hair, and mud in housing facilities.” Inspectors wrote that they could hear dogs in a garage on the premises, but they “could not inspect the garage for compliance with rules.”
During an October 2020 inspection, state inspectors reported the facility was “very dirty with a noticeable odor of feces/urine. Dirty bedding, dirt/dust, and feces throughout, floor very grimy. More frequent cleaning/sanitation is needed due to large volume of dogs. Discussed definitions of cleaning and sanitation, different cleaning/sanitation products and methods with owner.” The inspector added that he provided the owner with the names of several nearby licensed shelters and rescue groups to contact “to possibly surrender the dogs to help downsize the herd.”
Woody Wiley of Cantril: During a February 2022 USDA inspection, inspectors found several dogs with visible veterinary issues. One of the dogs was a female golden retriever with hair loss over half her body, another was a bichon frise with hair loss, another was a dog with an “open wound” on one shoulder, and a fourth was a dog that appeared to be very underweight with her ribs, backbone and hip bones visible. The owner reportedly admitted to the inspector that no medical records had been maintained on the dogs in question and there were no medical records for another dog on site that was blind. There were 248 dogs on site at that time. In March 2022, Wiley received an official warning from USDA for the veterinary care issues found in February.
Lloyd Yoder of Valleyview Premium Puppies in Riverside: USDA inspectors who visited Valleyview in February 2022 and March 2022 found more than a dozen violations, including unclean and unsafe conditions, two dogs that appeared emaciated, and one injured dog. “Female Old English sheepdog is severely emaciated,” an inspector wrote. “The dog’s spine, ribs, shoulder blades and hip bones were protruding and easily felt beneath the hair coat with little to no fat or muscle covering the dog’s frame. Loose stool is also coating the hair beneath the dog’s tail. The dog has not been evaluated by a veterinarian and is not under treatment for the poor body condition or loose stool.”
The inspector also wrote, “The licensee is not removing the dog feces from the enclosures on a daily basis … In several enclosures, the inspectors could not walk without stepping in feces … In many enclosures, rodents have dug holes beneath the shelters and up through the plywood floors indicating that the plywood floor has most likely rotted away … Another enclosure, containing two adult dogs, has numerous shotgun shells scattered across the ground. The dogs have direct access to the shotgun shells. Shotgun shells could have a negative impact on the health of the dogs should they chew on or consume them.”
At the same inspection, some of the dogs’ food was found be spoiled, contaminated or moldy and some of the food had bird droppings and rodent feces within it. Some dogs were inside enclosures that had “poison pellets” (mouse and rat killer) strewn in them, and one dog was seen “carrying around a dead mouse in its mouth.”
Loren Yoder of Riverside: During a February 2022 USDA inspection, Yoder was cited for six violations related to housing, veterinary care and cleanliness. The inspector noted that one enclosure with five dogs in it had a plywood floor that was “buried beneath a thick layer of dirt and gravel,” and “in the enclosure, rodents have dug holes beneath the shelter and up through the plywood floor indicating that the plywood floor has most likely rotted away.”
In addition, the inspector noted: “The facility is not removing the dog feces from the enclosures on a daily basis.” The inspector also noted there were missing veterinary records and inadequate veterinary guidance on some issues, as well as a lack of “preventative care and treatment plans to maintain healthy and unmatted hair coats, properly trimmed toenails, and clean and healthy skin.”
Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kathie Obradovich for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.
'A harbinger of what comes next': In Idaho governor's race, a far-right candidate leans into extremism
Originally published by The 19th
In 2019, just months into her job as Idaho’s lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin posted a photo of herself outside her statehouse office with two men linked to a militia group. Weeks later, she delivered an oath to militia members that is often reserved for state military.
McGeachin’s embrace of extremism would continue: In October 2020, she appeared in a libertarian group’s video against state COVID-19 restrictions, placing a gun on top of a bible. In February, she agreed to a pretaped speech at a conference hosted by the white nationalist Nick Fuentes. This month, McGeachin told an anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist that “God calls us to pick up the sword and fight, and Christ will reign in the state of Idaho.”
McGeachin is challenging Gov. Brad Little in Tuesday’s primary for governor, arguing her candidacy better reflects the values of a state where former President Donald Trump received more than 60 percent of the vote in 2020. Idaho has a history of anti-government sentiment, which has gradually created factions within its Republican Party between far-right populists like McGeachin and more traditional conservatives like Little.
Like many GOP candidates across the country, McGeachin has highlighted her opposition to COVID-19 mitigation efforts as well as teachings about racism in schools. But McGeachin has taken these issues further than many in the Republican Party by not only sowing doubt about the 2020 election results but also supporting “state sovereignty” that actively rejects areas of federal government oversight.
Whether McGeachin’s long-shot bid in a crowded primary is successful or not, her attempt to unseat Little has become a flashpoint in the discussion of extremism in state politics — and White women’s role in it.
“What happens on the far right is that there’s a way in which White women are kind of the velvet glove on the iron fist,” said Jessie Daniels, a researcher on extremism and author of “Nice White Ladies.” “They soften in some ways the real brutality of these policies.”
McGeachin, a business owner who was elected lieutenant governor in 2018 after a brief stint away from serving in the statehouse, has campaigned on a platform of challenging the 2020 election. At a campaign rally this month, the 59-year-old described her vision as “protecting individual liberty, defending your health freedom and upholding your constitutional rights.”
“It includes defending Idaho’s state sovereignty, reducing Idaho’s financial dependence on federal dollars and strengthening our economy through the development of our state’s many resources,” she said.
She has also embraced many of the issues propelling the right. At the same campaign rally, McGeachin committed to “fixing” Idaho’s education system, “eradicating” critical race theory — a catch-all phrase used by some Republicans to describe certain lessons about race — and what she calls “other forms of Marxist indoctrination.” Last year, McGeachin announced a task force that would target “indoctrination” in schools. And after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft indicated Roe v. Wade will be overturned, McGeachin called for a special legislative session to end exemptions to abortion that include cases of rape and incest. Such exemptions have been widely supported by conservatives who oppose abortion.
Little, a sheep and cattle rancher, has tried to frame his campaign around cutting taxes and state regulations. But he also signed into law a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy this year. In 2020 he signed anti-trans legislation into law.
However McGeachin has also chosen to publicly associate with media personalities who hold views about the pandemic, immigration, elections and race that are outside mainstream conservatism. McGeachin defended her speech at the America First Political Action Conference — hosted by Fuentes, who participated in the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and has denied the Holocaust — by claiming she didn’t know who he is. McGeachin also said she wanted to reach young conservative people.
“There’s a growing number of conservatives, young conservatives all across the country, that are really concerned about the direction that our country is headed,” she told television station KTVB in February.
McGeachin, whose campaign did not return a request for an interview, has also not shied away from other far-right figures. Her May 4 rally was attended by Stew Peters, who has pushed anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, and Michelle Malkin, who has been described by the ADL as supportive of white supremacists. Wendy Rogers, an Arizona senator who was censured by fellow state lawmakers in part because she, too, recorded a message for Fuentes’ conference and suggested the hangings of unspecified “traitors,” was also in attendance.
Kelly J. Baker is an author who has studied religion and white supremacist movements. She noted that McGeachin sometimes echoes language used by far-right personalities but can also be ambiguous about it. Trump, who has endorsed McGeachin, took a similar tactic, refusing at times to denounce white supremacists who supported him.
“When she’s speaking at something organized by white nationalists or participating in events with far-right figures, she isn’t disavowing them,” Baker said. “But that kind of ‘winking in that direction’ is a strategy that I think works to get voters who are sympathetic.”
Baker added that McGeachin’s self-described identity as a mother, coupled with being a White woman, may be advantageous to her campaign and has echoes of politicians like Sarah Palin and her bid for vice president more than a decade ago.
“Their rhetoric is still rough, right? And the things they are saying are pretty bombastic and controversial,” Baker said. “But I do wonder if there’s something about gender roles that are working for them — that they’re able to play into this somewhat in a way that White men don’t have the option to.”
Heath Druzin is an Idaho-based journalist who hosts the “Extremely American” podcast covering militia groups and politics. He has reported on McGeachin for years and noted that other far-right women candidates are running campaigns in Idaho, including for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Many of them have been elected to office before their current bids.
“It’s not that they appeared out of nowhere,” Druzin said. “They have been leaders in the far-right movement in Idaho for a while. But it’s more that the far right just gained a lot more prominence recently, especially with the pandemic. And they were sort of there ready to step into the spotlight.”
In Idaho, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run on separate tickets in both the primary and general election. The fissures between McGeachin and Little started soon after the two were elected. McGeachin would gain acting governor status when Little was out of the state, and several times she used that authority to try to change state policies. Her informal oath to two members of a militia group happened during one such stint.
Some of her administrative actions focused on pandemic measures: In May 2021, McGeachin signed an executive order banning mask mandates. Little rescinded the order and called it an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.” Then in October, she signed an executive order banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates and testing. Little again quickly rescinded the order.
Druzin said his reporting indicates the effects of COVID-19 restrictions gave far-right movements and its supporters new talking points.
“Without the pandemic, Janice McGeachin might still be running,” he said. “But I think she would be getting a lot less oxygen.”
McGeachin’s campaign is being tracked as one indicator of Trump’s ongoing political power as he eyes a 2024 presidential run. He endorsed her in November, something McGeachin has featured heavily in her promotional materials, including on social media. Trump’s snub of Little has not weakened the incumbent’s public support for the former president — and it may not be hurting him either. Little has a substantial lead over McGeachin in both polling and fundraising.
Jaclyn Kettler, an associate professor of political science at Boise State University, said that while McGeachin’s pandemic-related actions appears to have boosted her popularity, it still may not be enough to best an incumbent.
“She clearly had some strong support, but whether or not that’s enough to mobilize against the incumbent governor, was probably going to be a fairly large task,” Kettler said.
Robert Boatright, a political science professor at Clark University in Massachusetts, has studied the intersectionality between primaries and extremism. He cautioned against making too many assumptions about what a primary outcome in a state with a history of conservative infighting means for other areas of the country.
“It’s important to put these things in context so that we don’t draw these giant lessons from it,” he said. “We can make an idiosyncratic race this giant national narrative about what is happening in our politics, and sometimes, that’s a little bit of an over interpretation.”
Others see McGeachin’s bid as a possible preview of future election dynamics elsewhere. Melissa Ryan, a consultant who works to combat disinformation and extremism and writes a newsletter on the subject, said gerrymandering, as politicians draw more safe seats for both major parties, could lead to more extreme views from candidates as they don’t have to court voters with as many perspectives. She specified the Republican Party’s gerrymandering tactics.
“I think it’s really important to point out that what’s happening in Idaho is happening in races all across the country, everywhere from city council to U.S. Senate,” she said. “The trend is going to get worse before it gets better.”
And it’s not just American politics. Daniels noted the gradual political rise of other far-right women in countries like France, where the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen lost against President Emmanuel Macron in April but by a smaller margin than her previous attempt in 2017. Le Pen took a more moderate approach this time, focusing on economic issues. It’s possible more women with extreme views outside of mainstream conservatism will pick up the mantle. Daniels recommended people hold their elected officials accountable when that happens.
“I think that the Idaho governor’s race is really going to be a harbinger of what comes next on the national and international stage,” she said.