Former Rep. Janice McGeachin of Idaho Falls, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is an avid supporter of President Trump and one of the state delegates who voted for him at the Republican convention. And, as we saw with Trump during his campaign, McGeachin doesn’t like what she sees with establishment politics – or the direction of Idaho leadership in general.
Her “Independence Day” message to supporters had some flowery comments about God and country. But it also contained some serious political fireworks for this Fourth of July, setting herself apart from three other candidates who “see no evil” with those running for governor, or the state of leadership in general. She has staked out the “conservative” territory in this race against three relative moderates – Sen. Marv Hagedorn, Rep. Kelley Packer and former Idaho GOP chair Steve Yates.
Primary elections of this nature tend to go to the most conservative candidate, which makes McGeachin a definite contender. She’s not saying whom she supports in the governor’s race. But judging by her comments, it appears she’d team well with Congressman Raul Labrador – who talks about bringing a different style of leadership to the state.
She probably wouldn’t mix well with Lt. Gov. Brad Little. And here’s why:
“Our current state leadership in Idaho has allowed lobbyists, insiders, and special interest groups to run amok in Boise. They have rigged the system in order to expand the liberal agenda and benefit their personal interests,” McGeachin wrote.
“… the five years I spent as a private citizen (after legislative service) taught me about the injustices that were being committed against the people of Idaho. When I left, I thought I was leaving the state in good hands. Instead, I have found that corruption in Boise has gotten considerably worse,” she said. “Key political figures in our state government are more concerned with filling their pockets than helping the people they were elected to serve. Taxes have increased, spending has increased and yet the people of Idaho are no better off.”
So much for McGeachin getting support from the Otter PAC. But, she adds, “It’s time for all of us to wipe out the remaining dregs of bad policies and practices.”
If McGeachin is elected lieutenant governor, she had better hope that Labrador wins the governorship. A lieutenant governor has two main functions – to preside over the Senate and serve as governor when the boss is out of the state. She could play a big role in a Labrador administration, and probably would do OK with Boise developer Tommy Ahlquist, who preaches conservatism. With Little in the governor’s chair, McGeachin might as well take up knitting.
But to her credit, McGeachin at least is giving Idahoans a choice, and adding some spice to an otherwise mundane campaign.
McGeachin is somewhat of a surprising entry in the lieutenant governor’s race, because she’s been away from the political scene for five years. But she’s no stranger to state government, having served on the Legislature’s budget committee as chairwoman of the Health and Welfare Committee.
Why did she leave in the first place? “I term-limited myself out,” she said. Polls consistently show that the sentiment among Idahoans is high for term limits, but the Legislature cannot bring itself to enact it. Term limits is another one of those enemies of establishment politics.
During her time away, she opened a restaurant/pub in Idaho Falls, creating about 20 jobs and living with the laws that she and other friends in the Legislature have imposed on the business world. She also works with her husband, James, in an auto repair and parts service.
“We are in the businesses of production. Our job is to produce goods or service,” she said. “I find myself spending more time filling out reports (labor, commerce, taxation and unemployment) than doing what we should be doing – that is being more productive and creating more jobs.”
She supports Trump because of his desire to eliminate some of the burdensome regulations and cut taxes. “We have a great opportunity in our state to work hand in hand with the Trump administration.”
Slogan alert: “We can help make America great again, and that starts right here in Idaho,” she says.
I can’t imagine Trump visiting a state on behalf of a candidate for lieutenant governor. But he might consider making an exception on this one.
Chuck Malloy, a longtime Idaho journalist, is a columnist with Idaho Politics Weekly. He may be reached at [email protected]