“If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today.” – Thomas Sowell
The 2022 Primary is finally over and we can hopefully enjoy our mailboxes having less junk in them for a time. Politics is often theater, and I have seen my share of it. In 2012, I served as a precinct chair in Salt Lake City for the Utah Republican Party. That was the first year that current Utah 2nd Congressional Representative Chris Stewart ran for office. At the state Republican convention, six candidates vied for the congressional seat. In quite a show of theater, five candidates running against Stewart accused his campaign of trashy rumors. One by one, they walked to the microphone and instead of giving their speech they denounced Stewart, endorsed one of the other five, and dropped out. It reminds me a lot of the trash politics that we saw in Idaho this year.
If you followed Idaho politics at all, you were likely subjected to a heavy dose of soap opera-level theatrics pulled straight out of the Democrat Party’s playbook. Given the results of the primaries, it looks to have worked. No shortage of accusations of being rapist defenders, victim shamers, and white supremacists filled the Idaho airwaves and print. It was spearheaded by the establishment wing of the Idaho Republican Party.
I’m saddened that this is what the Republican Party has become. The moment they diverged from performance and sunk to the level of the leftists, they declared their opposition sub-human and irredeemable. By their assertions, Janice McGeachin isn’t the wrong person for the job because she’s unrefined and had poor job performance. She’s the wrong person because she is the embodiment of the Ku Klux Klan.
The worst part of the identity politics and drama is that the accused were almost exclusively women, and those who benefitted were exclusively men. This does nothing to dispel the accusations of the good old boys being a bunch of misogynists. When the left joined the chorus of the deranged and went after candidates like McGeachin, it was normal to see comments across social media about her appearance, like referring to her as “crazy eyes”. In no other sector of society would it be acceptable to trash a woman based on her looks, and yet the party of “believe all women” led the charge.
I was not surprised to see Janice McGeachin fall well short of the necessary votes for the governorship. I believe that Janice is likely a good person, but she is not the polished politician that many voters look for when they cast their ballots. I don’t believe that she is a white supremacist or that selling your message to the entire body of voters is something that should disqualify you from office. When critics suggested that McGeachin presenting her message to ex-convicts is a disqualifier, what they’re really saying is that the Governor should only represent people who look, talk and think like they do. Perhaps this tribal response is a reflection of the greater culture?
In the lieutenant governor’s race, Priscilla Giddings was the better candidate between her and Scott Bedke, but could not overcome the slander campaigns launched from his seat as Speaker of the House. She is a certified badass female fighter pilot and by all measures a shining example of female empowerment. She is a fearless and dynamic speaker and will one day make an excellent executive. By contrast, Bedke embodies the good old boy system. He is a generational rancher, a poor public speaker, and he utilized his authority as Speaker of the House to target his political opposition. I suspect Bedke has reached the pinnacle of his political career, while Giddings has a much higher ceiling.
The establishment wing of the party on the Jim Jones Take Back Idaho slate had a good showing, and by “take back Idaho” they really meant “stay in power”. Scott Bedke moved from Speaker of the House to likely Lt. Governor. Phil McGrane moves from Ada County Clerk and former head of the Elections Board of the County Clerks Association to likely Secretary of State, and Brad Little likely remains the Governor. The only state-level upset saw Raul Labrador unseat twenty-year incumbent Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. In my opinion, this likely sets up a match in 2026 between Bedke and Labrador for the Republican gubernatorial nominee.
By all measures, the establishment wing was successful in portraying itself as the sane middle ground. When they threw bombs they did so by proxy utilizing PACS and the leftist press to do their dirty work. Fire-bombing candidates that went on the offensive like Idaho Falls’ Chad Christensen, had no proxy from which to operate, and thus came across as the erratic opposition. It was a political miscalculation. The public is susceptible to political fire-bombing, but only by proxy.
Congratulations to the candidates who ran electorally successful campaigns, and congratulations to the candidates who ran campaigns that kept their integrity intact, but fell short of victory. To my fellow Idahoans, let us be more mindful of the political theater and demand better of our candidates, our elected representatives, and the press.