Idaho’s lieutenant governor has gone to war with her state’s governor — fellow Republican — over coronavirus shutdown orders.
Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin has gone after Gov. Brad Little, who has ordered bars to stay closed until at least June 13, angering the lieutenant governor whose family owns The Celt Pub and Grill, reported The Daily Beast.
“As Lieutenant Governor, I am one heartbeat away from the governor’s chair,” McGeachin wrote. “[We were] sidelined and left to watch silently as the government closed Main Street by unilaterally deciding which businesses were ‘essential’ and which ones were not.”
The definition of “essential” work came from the White House, and not the governor, with whom McGeachin hasn’t spoken in weeks.
“This particular administration has been in office not quite two years, and so their working relationship is relatively new,” said state Rep. Greg Chaney, a Republican who has criticized the lieutenant governor’s position on reopening the state. “But historically I can’t recall a similar example, even [back in the 1980s] when we had a Republican lieutenant governor and a Democratic governor.”
McGeachin attended a “Disobey Idaho” protest organized by the right-wing Idaho Freedom Foundation, and she then joined Idaho GOP chairman Raul Labrador to support the reopening of the Hardware Brewery — which has defied state orders to remain closed until next month.
She has accused the governor of abusing his power to “harass and intimidate private businesses,” and Hardware Brewery’s owner has compared Little’s leadership to Nazi Germany.
“I don’t have so much of an issue that they want us to do it, but I don’t think private businesses should be told by the government to police the public,” co-owner Christine Lohman told the Daily Beast. “Our public are critical-thinking adults, for me to say, ‘I need to check your temperature,’ or that only six people can sit together although eight or 10 came in together… I say, ‘When is it going to stop?’”
Lohman complained that Little has continued to draw a government salary during the shutdown, and she praised McGeachin for supporting defiant business owners.
“The lieutenant governor has more stones than the governor,” Lohman said. “Brad Little has acted like a Democrat through this whole thing, and the people know it. These are people who want their freedom. This is the perfect time for America to fight for its civil rights.”
Much of the state — which has confirmed 2,400 cases of COVID-19 to date — have low rates of infection, but Blaine County, where the Sun Valley ski resort is located, at one point had the highest infection rate of any place in the country.
The 57-year-old McGeachin was a delegate for Donald Trump in 2016, and she has lengthy ties to right-wing extremists.
She marked the 24th anniversary last year of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City by white supremacists by administering an oath at an event hosted by the right-wing militia group Real Three Percent of Idaho.
McGeachin also posed for a photo with right-wing militia members in apparent show of support for an extremist serving a 14-year prison term for his role in an armed confrontation with federal agents.