Out-of-state transplants are helping to drive Idaho's economic growth, but also are helping to plunge the Republican Party into turmoil.
The state GOP is consumed with infighting among the traditional conservatives who've long controlled the party, increasingly vocal anti-government militants and highly motivated "political refugees" from the West Coast, and those newcomers are pushing the party further to the right, reported Politico.
“They want to make sure people here know how evil liberals are,” said Alicia Abbott, a political independent from Sandpoint.
Idaho has become one of the fastest-growing states in the country, but they're helping to tear the GOP into three or four parties, according to Democratic Party chair Fred Cornforth, who recently resigned due to a cancer diagnosis.
“There’s a civil war in the Idaho Republican Party,” Cornforth said. “There are the populists — the ones making the most noise — and libertarians, moderates who’ve shifted right of center, meaning they aren’t really moderates any more, and Republicans who don’t recognize their party anymore and will drift over to voting Dem.”
The intraparty divisions have been fueled by Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who banned vaccine mandates while Gov. Brad Little briefly left the state, and state Rep. Priscilla Giddings, her likely running mate in a gubernatorial race that includes anti-government provocateur Ammon Bundy.
"I’m not the Republican they are, that is for danged sure,” Bundy said. “I never will be. I’m going to give the people of Idaho a decision … are you Republican or are you conservative? ’Cause they’re not the same thing, especially in Idaho right now.”
Bundy took part in the Malheur Wildlife Refuge occupation and an armed standoff against federal agents, while McGeachin has ties to the right-wing Three Percenters and the John Birch Society, which was formally endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee -- much to the alarm of Kootenai County commissioner Bill Brooks, who quit the party in protest.“We came here 20 years ago because it was the closest thing we could find to Norman Rockwell,” Brooks said. “Now people come looking for George Lincoln Rockwell,” the founder of the American Nazi Party.
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