Former President Donald Trump endorsed Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin on Tuesday night in a long-running battle with Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little, calling her “a true supporter of MAGA since the very beginning,” in his latest move to put aggressively pro-Trump allies in charge of the GOP.
McGeachin isn’t just some run-of-the-mill MAGA backer, though. She has close ties to Eric Parker, the well-known leader of the Real Three Percent of Idaho, an offshoot of the Three Percenter militia movement. In June, she cheerily accepted an endorsement from Parker, who thanked her for pledging to be a “friend” to the movement if she wins the governorship.
Parker was dubbed “the Bundy Ranch sniper” and gained fame in the far-right “patriot movement” when he aimed his weapon at federal officers during the 2014 standoff at Ammon Bundy’s Nevada ranch. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his role in that standoff but avoided serious jail time.
There’s a lot more: McGeachin spoke at a 2019 rally organized by militia leaders, swearing in an armed group with an oath paraphrased from the state constitution that seemed to push the views of the far-right sovereign citizen movement, has posed with militia members who were flashing the far-right “OK” hand signal, and has been involved in advocating for others who got longer sentences for their roles in the Bundy Ranch standoff to get out of jail. She’s also shown up to campaign events with a personal security detail that included one person with a visible III% tattoo (the symbol of the militia).
She’s also pushed COVID-19 denialism, appearing in an October 2020 video from the libertarian Idaho Freedom Foundation that said the pandemic “may or may not be occurring.”
McGeachin has also engaged in a wild tug-of-war with Little. Every time he’s left the state, she’s issued bizarre executive orders, including one that banned all mask mandates in the state, including prohibitions on school mask mandates, as well as a directive to send Idaho’s national guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico border and an outright ban on all mandatory COVID testing in the state. Little has reversed those executive orders each time he’s returned.
McGeachin celebrated Trump’s endorsement on Twitter, promising there was “much more to come from the two of us”:
Little has yet to announce he’s running for reelection, but is widely expected to run. And unlike some other Republicans that Trump has gone after, Little has been careful not to antagonize the former president. Trump even praised him as a “terrific gentleman” in a speech last week, making his support for McGeachin even stranger.
The endorsement is Trump’s latest aggressive attempt to remake the Republican Party in his image and make sure only the most aggressively pro-Trump Republicans hold positions of power.
Trump’s McGeachin endorsement isn’t his only muscle-flex this week. The former president reportedly used a Monday night fundraising speech to House Republicans to blast the 13 House GOP lawmakers who recently voted for a bipartisan infrastructure bill.