With the midterms looming and Republican gains all but certain, Politico is reporting that the Idaho Republican Party is in chaos with incumbent GOP officeholders having to fend off bitter attacks from pro-Donald Trump partisans when they should be cruising to re-election.
As Politico's Zac Mointellaro and Ximena Bustillo wrote, the Idaho GOP is "at war with itself up and down the ballot ahead of its May 17 primaries."
At the top of the ticket, current Gov Brad Little (R) is facing withering attacks from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R) who has Trump's endorsement, and that has state Republicans choosing sides in an ugly battle for the soul of the Idaho Republican Party.
The Little versus McGeachin squabble is not the only high-profile fight in the conservative state with Politico reporting, "The state attorney general is staring down a challenge from a former rabble-rousing member of Congress. The senior of Idaho’s two GOP House members is facing a primary that has drawn millions in spending. And contentious open races for lieutenant governor and the secretary of state — Idaho’s chief election official — echo some of the national divisions within the party."
At the center of all this is Trump who is also fomenting sharp divisions in multiple states including Georgia, Ohio, North Carolina and Nebraska with his controversial endorsements and attacks on GOP lawmakers who won't back his complaints that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
As Tommy Ahlquist, a previous GOP candidate for governor, put it: "We’re probably a microcosm, in some ways, of a lot of places around the country.”
"It’s just this national rhetoric, and running to a narrative created by Trump that he started when he knew he was going to lose, and started telling the lie,” Ahlquist elaborated. “And that filters down to Republicans in our state. And in a state as red as ours, that’s still the narrative because that’s what they do to get elected.”
Former Republican president pro tem of the Idaho state Senate, Brent Hill, concurred.
“The more right-leaning side of the party led by the Freedom Foundation and others — they’re certainly not in that alone — have been emboldened by some of their successes, and so have maybe been more aggressive than what we’ve seen in some prior elections,” Hill remarked.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who is also facing a challenge from a far-right opponent who has labled him a "liberal," also lamented the state of the GOP not only in his state -- but nationally.
"There is a lot of division within the Republican Party,” he said. “This really is an important election, I think, in which way the Republican Party is going to turn. Not just in Idaho, but in the country.”
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