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Boise State professor on Lt. Gov. McGeachin's rare announcement

Political science professor Dr. Stephanie Witt wasn't shocked by Janice McGeachin's announcement, however, she said the intra-party race for governor is still rare.

BOISE, Idaho — Two years after becoming the Gem State's first woman lieutenant governor, Republican Janice McGeachin announced on Wednesday that she will run for Idaho governor in 2022.

McGeachin will run against first-term governor Republican Brad Little. The two's relationship has been "tense" due to McGeachin's criticisms of how Little handled the coronavirus pandemic. 

The fissure between the two started back in April 2020 during Idaho's stay-at-home order, when McGeachin was on a podcast and said she had no problem speaking her mind with the governor.

"First of all, I'm a duly elected constitutional officer, elected by the people of Idaho, I report to the people of Idaho. That doesn't mean that the governor and I agree on everything and when we do disagree I will speak my mind," she said.

McGeachin went on to say their relationship was "tense" over the course of several weeks and doesn't feel that her input is valued. She then openly defied the governor's phased reopening process for the state by going to the opening of a new brewery in North Idaho.

Around the same time, she penned an op-ed criticizing the governor, saying, "The Governor campaigned on a promise of imposing the 'lightest hand of government' on Idahoans. To me, this means getting out of the way and letting Idahoans get back to work."

After what has happened in the last 14 months, Boise State University political science professor Dr. Stephanie Witt wasn't shocked by McGeachin's announcement, however, she highlighted that the intraparty fighting for the race for governor is still rare.

"Well, it seems to be relatively rare, there are cases of a lieutenant governor competing against a sitting governor but that almost always involves people from the opposite party," the professor of public policy and administration explained. "So certainly this is the first time in many, many decades that we've seen this happen here in Idaho."

Witt told The 208 that there are competing factions within the Republican Party, on both a state and national level. Nationally, the House GOP ousted Wyoming Republican Representative Liz Cheney from the third-top post for House Republicans for her repeated comments pointing out falsehoods in former President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him. Now, a similar intra-party squabble is happening in Idaho.

Witt explained that by announcing her candidacy for governor a full year before the Republican primaries for governor in May 2022, McGeachin now has more time to gain exposure and fundraise. However, now it will cost even more money to just win the Republican primary.

"I kind of wish it did surprise me but you know we're a long way away from the days of Ronald Reagan who really insisted that Republicans never said anything bad about Republicans in public. Clearly, we're no longer in that kind of era and I've seen that at the national level certainly and we're seeing it here now," she said.

There are now a total of six Republicans running for Idaho governor in 2022.

"The lieutenant governor is not a shy person it seems and I'm sure she'll be an interesting candidate to watch and listen to," Witt added.


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